The Evolution of a Makeup Artist

My mother has never been a huge makeup person, and I don’t have any blood sisters. (I have a sister-in-law who will be mad at me if I don’t clarify.) I was simply born loving makeup, both wearing it and putting it on other people.

And while my makeup looks good now (it better, after over a decade of applying makeup as my profession), it didn’t start out that way. I had lot of bad makeup looks, and some questionable eyebrow choices. I’ve also been on a journey with my thick, naturally curly, dark brown hair that screams “Sicily!” at you before it frizzes up.

I guess I’m feeling nostalgic or something, because the idea of doing a blog post where I look back and share some pictures of Allisons past–as well as my commentary on them–sounds like a great idea. You want to come on this ride with me? Grab some black eyeliner and buckle up.

Here I am, with my sister friend, Danielle, at three years old. Her mother used to put clown makeup on us because Dan was afraid of clowns (the idea being it would make her less afraid of them), and I just liked the feel of makeup on my face. Note the foreshadowing with my Florida shirt (I would later live there) and my client/doll I had with me. All of my dolls got made up, either with markers, crayons, or whatever real makeup I could get my little hands on.

At age five, with my brother, Mike. I was makeup-less and somehow rocking straight bangs with curly hair. This was during the period when I would dress Mike up in a little wedding gown, call him “Christina” and put makeup on him. Note the foreshadowing of my current career.

I believe this was my 10th birthday. I was looking very Beatnik with my bob and black turtleneck. In the front of the picture on the left is my cousin, Brooke, who became my “you have no choice, we’re always together!” makeup model for years.

The summer after seventh grade with my friend, Lisa. We are both clearly wearing the same lipstick, which I believe was a lipstick Revlon used to make called “Toffee.” My other favorite lipstick at the time was “Blackberry,” also by Revlon.

Lisa and I again, at our Junior Prom. I had my hair done for this hyped up dance, and in true 1999 fashion, they did not disappoint (yes, those are rhinestone bobby pins from Delia’s in my hair). I sold my ticket to see Eminem at the Worcester Palladium so I could afford to go to prom in a limo with some friends, and that is the one true regret of my life.

With my friend, Dena, the summer after I graduated from high school. My eyebrows were thin and I had spent some time in a tanning booth, but I don’t hate my makeup here. I think it was eyeshadow, mascara, concealer and nude lip. Ah, the effortlessness of being 18.

With my friend, Emily, during (I think) sophomore year of college. My eyebrows got thinner and black eyeliner became an important part of my makeup. You can also see the remnants of what was originally an eggplant hair color woven through my spiral curls. Also, if I wasn’t in class, it’s pretty much a guarantee that purse was holding at least one water bottle full of Bacardi Limon & Diet Coke. That’s not beauty related, but it’s a fun fact.

With my friend, Laura, inside my apartment during our senior year of college. A headband and hoop earrings were a big part of my look that year. And it’s hard to see, but the black eyeliner and nude lip were still in rotation.

In Florida, where I lived for two years after college. I wasn’t wearing blue contacts so I’m not sure why it looks like that, but I think I was wearing a shimmery light blue eyeshadow. And check out that tan! (Scroll up one for comparison with my natural skin color.) I loved being that tan, but I paid for it a few years later with several pre-cancerous moles that had to be removed.

In Philadelphia, circa 2007, with my college friends, Jess and Liz. I was wearing my favorite holographic lilac pigment eyeshadow from Benefit, with a frosty nude lipgloss from Victoria’s Secret.

Late 2008, with my then boyfriend, Joe. This was after I opened my company but before I went full-time with it. I was wearing a dark blue smokey eye, black liner in the waterline, and I had started filling in my brows. I stopped wearing my hair curly in 2008, so this was during the early straight haired years when I flat ironed.

With my friend, Carina, in 2011. I was a solid year into being a full-time makeup artist at that point. I was wearing a bronze eyeshadow from Cargo, and my hair was too flat. I can tell I had done Carina’s makeup here too. On an unrelated note, I wish I still had that shirt.

With Liz and Jess at Liz’s baby shower. That Sonia Kashuk blush was maybe a little too peach for me when I wasn’t wearing self tanner, but I remember loving it at the time. I helped the mom-to-be with her makeup that morning, and gave Jess an impromptu makeup lesson while we were getting ready.¬†

On my 32nd birthday. I had started blue-ing my hair seven months earlier. I’ve had different versions of it since then, but this has always been my favorite blue and color placement. By this point, I knew how to blowout my hair with a round brush, which is much more flattering on me than flat ironing. I think the lipstick is Russian Red by MAC. I always rock a red lip with a black and white polka dot dress or top.

2015, maybe? For a couple summers, I loved to use a blue pencil liner at my bottom lashline with black in the waterline with whatever other eye makeup I was wearing. And this was around the time when I got pretty good at curling my own hair.

A pro photo taken in summer of 2018. I had A LOT of makeup on, but you can’t really tell. Photo by Lisette Rooney Photography.

A mirror selfie–I don’t care, I like those better–last month. The lipstick is Rouge Sinner by Lipstick Queen. MAC Face & Body Foundation, Pro Longwear Concealer under my eyes, several MAC eyeshadows (but no eyeliner, that’s just black shadow) on my peepers, very faded pink Kevyn Aucoin pink blush my cheeks. And of course, lots of mascara. MAC eyeshadow in Brun to fill in my brows. This is the picture that I think looks most like me in real life.

 

And that’s how a little girl goes from loving to wear red lipstick clown makeup to a 36 year old who loves to wear red lipstick non-clown makeup. My look has evolved and will continue to, but I’m not sure if my hair will ever be “all black and curly” again like my father asks, since he is not big on change…

This has been a fun little stroll down memory lane for me. It’s like the longer version of the Then & Now Facebook challenge. I’d love to see other people do this, but I have a feeling I’m the only one who would want to. Thanks for reading this silly little post.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

Per Request: Day To Night Makeup

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Time to change up your look.

What is it about going out at night that makes us feel like we want to be more bold, fancy or done up? Clothes, hair, makeup–they often get a little boost, refresh or change when we go from our Daytime Selves to our Night Out Selves. Maybe it’s that we want things to pop more after the sun has gone down, or that society tells us cocktail dresses are not for coffee dates. Or it could be that we want something to help us get out of productive-ish daytime mode to our more relaxed or fun nighttime mode. I don’t know, guys. I was only a Psych Minor.

What I do know is how to make that day-to-night makeup change, which was another blog post request. (I didn’t forget, Bonnie!) Some of these tips may not apply to you if you don’t already wear certain products, but I want to try to cover everyone here, so I’ll include a bunch and you can choose what makes sense for you.

And now for some ideas to change your look from Office to Happy Hour.

Conceal Your Sins. This won’t necessarily make your look more night out-ish, but most people could use a little concealer refresh before going out, when they’ve already had their makeup on for several hours. Here’s how I do it. 1) I first add concealer to my chin, around my nose or anywhere else where my concealer or foundation has faded or I have some redness (I’m looking at you, chinny chin chin). 2) Then I completely remove my undereye¬† concealer and re-apply it, as I’ve found my undereye concealer can get a little caked or have a tiny smudge or two several hours after I’ve applied it, as I don’t wear waterproof products on a daily basis. If I’m going to add any dark shadow to my eye makeup, I do this step after that in case of shadow fallout onto the undereye area.

My go-to concealer.

Zap That Shine. If you have oily or combination skin, you’ll be looking a little (or a lot) shiny by the evening. Luckily, this couldn’t be a simpler fix. Some pressed powder applied to those annoying reflective spots will take care of the problem. You can also use oil blotting sheets during the day or prior to the powder retouch to absorb some of the oil without removing any makeup. This is another fix that won’t make you look more night out-ish, but it will make your makeup look better.

But not shining.

The Eyes Have It. There are several things you can do to intensify your eye makeup and make it more after-sunset like. It’s going to depend on your eye shape and what you already have on for eye makeup, but these are all changes that won’t take long to do on their own.

1) Thicken, darken or wing your upper lash eyeliner. You can do this with a shadow (my preference), a pencil or a gel liner. If you had brown or gray liner on, trace over it with black. If you have the lid space, slightly thicken the line or wing it out (not for those with hooded eyes).

2) Add some darkness to the outer V. As long as you already have some eyeshadow on your lid, adding a darker shade to the outer V will add some dimension to your eyeshadow look. This is a great option for those with hooded eyes.

3) Apply waterline eyeliner. Using a black or brown pencil on the waterline (inside the lower lid) will give your eyes a sultry effect. This does make eyes look smaller, so that’s something to be aware of if your eyes are on the small side.

4) Layer on some mascara. Add a coat to your top and bottom lashes. If you didn’t start with lower lash mascara on, you’ll notice that this one makes a big difference.

Emma Stone, just wingin’ it.

Get Cheeky. Your blush definitely fades between breakfast and dinner, so why not retouch and maybe even bump it up? If you have a deeper or more intense shade that feels a little “too much” for the daytime, bring that bad boy out for your evening look. Generally the interior lighting you are in at night will be darker than what you’re in during the day (until you walk into the women’s room and the lighting sobers you up), so this is the perfect time to intensify it.

This blush-centered look could totally work as a polished night out look, especially with a statement outfit or hair style.

Give ‘Em Some Lip. You know the lipstick you are scared to wear during the day because it’s too bright, dark or bold? Try it after dark! A statement lip is perfect for nights out, and nothing changes your look more than going from nude or subtle to look at me lips. Just be aware of the color of the top or dress you are wearing, as while a certain lipstick may look good on you, if it clashes with your top or dress, it’s not going to work.

A bold lip for the win.

A Hair Different. I’m technically not an authority on hair, but I do know that switching up your hair style can help transition you from your Daytime Self to your Night Out Self. This might mean taking your hair down when it’s been up all day, or putting it into a top knot if you’ve worn it down. It could be switching your part, or flat ironing or adding some curls. Or maybe it’s just some dry shampoo or some hairspray to freshen up your style. You do what works for you, girlfriend.

Night time is the right time…for a hair change.

You don’t need to spend a long time making your look go from a.m. to p.m. (In fact, you don’t need to do it at all!) But if you’re looking for some tips on how to change things up after the sun goes down, hopefully you’ve found this post helpful. I’m here for you, day or night, if you have questions.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

 

Product Review: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk

Isn’t she pretty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

Winter Faves

My moods used to be dictated by the seasons: Excited, Happy, Bummed Out, Devastated.

I like the construct of seasons. (Have you ever heard anyone say that?) I don’t care for the fact that the weather gets cold during some of the seasons in most parts of the country, but I like the idea of having time split into four sections based around Mother Nature. As as a business owner, I never know what day it is, so if I at least know what season we are in, I feel like I have some kind of grasp on life.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the silly little “Look Forward” lists I do for each season. Those started before I spent my winters in Charleston, SC. When I lived in RI year-round, I dreaded the cold weather months. So in 2016, I decided to write a list of things to look forward to that winter–trips, comedy shows, events–on a whiteboard I would see every time I opened the door to my apartment. I thought that would help dull my despair when it was icy and frigid and I was cursing my ancestors for leaving the warmth of Italy to migrate to America and settle in the Northeast.

Why did you do it, famigilia???

However, I’m not one to just look forward to things but not appreciate them when they are happening. No, ma’am. I’ve read too much Eckhart Tolle to do that. I like to take it a step further and not only be thankful for the good things, but learn from and be thankful for them. And that’s where my “Favorites” posts come in. I like to share the things I’ve been loving, as the things I love–whether they are actual objects, shows, new habits, exercises, etc.–make my life better by either making it easier or making it more joyful, and I thought maybe you could benefit from them too.

That was one hell of an intro, wasn’t it? Now we can proceed.

First-Thing Teeth Brushing. I’d like to think I’m great with my chompers. I get cleanings every five months, I brush for the suggested two minutes each time and I always brush after drinking coffee or any other known teeth stainers. Until recently, I did my first teeth brushing of the day after I drank my coffee each morning to help prevent coffee stains on my teeth. But my cousin, St. Maria–who has given me loads of great beauty and life advice–told me it’s better to make brushing be the absolute first thing you do after waking up. It’s like wake and bake, but for your teeth. Brushing and rinsing out your mouth straight away removes the bacteria and plaque that builds up overnight. Not only is getting that out of your mouth first thing good for your teeth, but good for your system (so you’re not swallowing the bacteria). So now I brush as soon as I get out of bed and again after coffee and breakfast. I use an electric toothbrush and my teeth are too sensitive to use it twice in a short period of time (morning and night is fine though), so I turn it on for my first brushing and keep it off for my second brushing.

I’ve also learned that you should wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee to brush your teeth, as coffee temporarily softens the enamel, so similar to the skin’s acid mantle, it needs time to re-build itself or it can get softened more by the brushing. If any dentists or dental hygienists have input on this, I’d love to hear it. Until then, I’m sticking with my new routine.

I said wake and bake FOR YOUR TEETH.

Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross & Dave Attell¬†on Netflix.¬†My love for comedy is no joke. I go to as many comedy shows as I can, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t watch a comedy special or a video comedy podcast. Even the last three books I read were written by comics (Patton Oswalt, Demetri Martin and Sebastian Manascalco). I’ve become a bit of a comedy snob–if I’m watching a special from a new comic and they don’t make me laugh within the first 15 minutes, I turn it off–but I really appreciate the seasoned pro comics.

So when¬†Bumping Mics¬†hit Netflix, I knew it would be good. I mean, Jeff Ross and Dave Attell? These guys are veteran comics. The show exceeded my expectations and had me laughing out loud. During each set, they’re on stage together, roasting each other and the drop-in guests (like Amy Schumer, Paul Rudd and Bruce Willis), and it’s hilarious. The title comes from how they bump each other’s mics when the other person says something really funny. I binged all three episodes and I wish there were 50 more. If you need a good laugh from two guys who know exactly what they’re doing, check out this show.

Masters of comedy.

Insight Timer App. I know, I know–I’ve said many times in this very blog that meditation is not for me. And I still don’t enjoy doing it on my own, but after several months of health issues that some of the doctors I went to said were probably caused by stress, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give meditation another try. (I’m quite certain my health issues were not caused by stress, for the record. Because as I kept telling everyone I AM NOT STRESSED.) I had a feeling I’d do better with guided meditation, so that’s the route I went.

Part of my health issues include frequent heart palpitations/heart racing, which I know can be related to anxiety (but in my case are likely tied to the middle ear infection I’ve had since October). Even though my palpies and heart racing bouts are positional and don’t come on when I’m feeling a little stressed or anxious, I figured even if meditation didn’t help with those, it would be a good thing to do anyway.

I started with the Headspace app, which I liked but didn’t love.¬†Hatch Tribe founder, Hilary Johnson, recommended Insight Timer to me and I like it a lot better. I loved their Intro course, and I like that they have a variety of free categorized meditations for stress, sleep, anxiety, fear, etc. My heart is still actin’ a fool, but I do feel like I’ve been more patient lately. Maybe that’s because I don’t get the opportunity for road rage, or because of my shorter work weeks (more on that below), but think this app gets some credit too. Thanks, Hilary!

Washer/Dryer Combo. During my last snowbird winter in Charleston, I only filled up my gas tank twice in the entire three months I was in town. And most of my mileage was from driving to a laundromat I liked, 20 minutes away in Isle of Palms. So when I saw that my new apartment had a washer/dryer combo, I thought, Do I even need to bring my car? I decided not to bring it, and it’s been working out fine (more on that below). And this washer/dryer combo thing is working out even better. Sure, it takes twice as long as your traditional separate washer and dryer situation, but it eliminates the need to take laundry out of the washer and put it into the dryer. You can also set it to just do a wash, if you’re like me and have clothes you don’t dry because you don’t want them to shrink and make you feel like you’ve gained weight. When I do a load of laundry that also goes in the dryer, I just set it and forget it. (That tagline isn’t already taken, right?) I love not having to stop what I’m doing to move a bunch of stuff from one machine to another machine. It’s small and efficient (since you don’t have to transfer from washer to dryer), and those are words people use to describe me, so I feel like it’s my kindred spirit of appliances.

It’s like a shampoo and conditioner all in one, but for your laundry.

BumbleBFF. Y’all know about Bumble, right? (“Yes!,” said all my single ladies. “You mean like the bee?,” said my marrieds.) They have the dating app, which I have used, but that’s not what I love. What I love is the BumbleBFF part of the Bumble app. It’s the same swipe-right-if-you’re-into-them-left-if-you’re-not thing, but it’s for women who want to make some new friends, and I don’t mean “friends” in that wink-wink way. I’ve found that during college and when I was working at different schools/offices/restaurants, it was easy to make friends. There was almost always someone who I clicked with, and we automatically had something in common. But once I graduated college and no longer had tons friends living in my dorm or near my apartments, and after I became a solopreneur whose only coworkers are Coffee, Laptop and Phone, things changed. I’ve still retained a lot of my friendships from college and my pre-AB Beauty years, and I’ve made some great friends since, but many of them don’t even live in the same state as me, nevermind the same town.

I went on BumbleBFF in January 2017, at the start of my first Charleston winter. I met up with three potential new gal pals that winter, and one of them became my one of my closest friends. I’ve met up with a couple more this winter, and I can see a real friendship coming out of at least one of them. Thanks to Hatch Tribe, I already have more friends in Charleston than I do in Newport, but you can never have enough friends, right?

Like any kind of people-meeting app, you’ll have more people to swipe through in a bigger city. There aren’t a ton of people on BumbleBFF in Charleston, but there were maybe two when I looked in Newport, where the population is much smaller. So I think the chances of meeting a friend from BumbleBFF here are higher than if I lived in a smaller place, but I can see this app being especially helpful for those who live in big cities.

You could find the Amy to your Tina.

My Charleston Work Schedule. I used to hate deep winter–aka the months of January, February and March–but now those three months are some of my favorite months of the year, thanks to my Charleston Winters. Not only do I love my Charleston Winters because I love Charleston, its warmer climate and my friends here, but it’s the time of year when my workweek gets cut almost in half because I don’t take many clients, train makeup artists or work on set here.

It feels like heaven to only work 40ish hours a week, sometimes less. It’s a busy time of year for me with wedding bookings and trial scheduling (we easily get double or triple the amount of inquiries between January – March than we do between June – August), but I can usually get that work done in a normal-length workday. The lack of weddings, trials, shoots and trainings also gives me more time to work on the big picture stuff for my business. AND it gives me more time to have a personal life too, which can be challenging during the rest of the year when I’m so friggin’ busy.

While I’m still as responsive as I am the rest of year during my Charleston Winters, things move a little slower here, and I like that. I don’t feel so crunched for time every day. I’m more relaxed because my workweek is much shorter. I sometimes feel a little guilt about that, but I can usually push it away with grits and 65 degree winter days. I have yet to take a full day off since I started AB Beauty, so these Charleston Winters are probably essential for my health (and sanity).

I feel like I’m living that 4 Hour Workweek life during the winter.

Blue Light Blocking Glasses. We’ve all heard about the blue light from computer and phone screens, right? It can cause damage to the eyes and has been known to disrupt sleep. I log in a lot of screen time, and I’ve noticed that it does affect my sleep (I find it harder to fall asleep when I’ve been in front of the computer for hours). I also often get headaches from hours of looking at my laptop. So when a friend of mine posted about her new blue light blocking glasses, I thought, I’ll give these bad boys a try. I ordered¬†these ones¬†from Amazon and have been wearing them for a few days. And guess what? No headaches.

It’s hard to say if they have helped with me falling asleep, because the night time heart palpies have been keeping me up. Once those go away, I’ll be able to get a better read on if the glasses are helping with the blue light sleep disruption. Even if they’re not, $12.99 is a fair price to pay to get rid of the headaches, right? The answer is yes.

I sent my parents this picture and my father responded “Wow! Those are some big ass specs,” and that was the funniest text I’ve gotten all year.

Not Having a Car. I bought my first car when I was 16. And other than freshmen year in college, when we couldn’t have cars on campus, I’ve never not had a car. I walk to most of errands in Newport–it’s not unusual for me to do 3 or 4 miles round trip when I have a lot to get done–but I need a car for most of my makeup jobs. I needed wheels my first winter in Charleston, because I lived in an apartment complex 20 minutes away from downtown that was off a highway, so it wasn’t a pedestrian-friendly area and wasn’t in walking distance of anything anyway. I lived downtown last winter and could walk to most things I wanted or needed to do, but I needed my car to get to the laundromat.

This year, I took several things into consideration before deciding if I’d even need my car. 1) The washer/dryer combo in my apartment 2) The fact there is no onsite parking at my apartment. 3) How there is no parking allowed on my street. 4) The lack of street parking in my neighborhood. 5) The annoyance of having to remember to go outside each night and put a new visitor’s pass in my car (which I had to do last winter). 6) The cost of driving down from RI and back at the end of my trip, with one hotel stay each way and flying a co-pilot friend back to RI or MA and down from RI or MA compared to the cost of one flight each way for just me and a couple suitcases.

Seeing as though I am once again downtown and can walk to a zillion places, I thought, Forget it. I left my car at my parents’ house (a win-win, since they now have a car to use if one of their’s is in the shop) and I haven’t looked back. I don’t have to worry about parking, filling up my tank, oil changes, or any maintenance or repairs. I also think I’m going to come out of this a better person, as I won’t be experiencing road rage for three months. Sure, I’m spending some cheddar on Ubers and Lyfts a few times a week, but I think it will end up being less expensive than what it would have cost for the trips to and back from Charleston. And it’s so freeing not to have to worry about a car! This was definitely one of my better decisions in life.

And I’m fine with it.

Blo Charleston. I like my hair and I’m happy I have it, but it’s a bitch to blowdry it straight (the only way I wear it). I only wash it once a week and while I can and do usually blow it out myself, I like to outsource the job when possible. The problem is that I don’t usually love the professional blowouts I get. Let me revise that: I don’t usually love the top part of the blowouts I get. The bottom 2/3 usually looks way better than what I could do, but the top part is often too smooth and flat for me. Because of my face shape, I like a lot of volume at the crown. My face is wider than it is long, so adding volume at the crown gives the illusion that my diamond shaped face is longer, which, trust me, is flattering. When someone gives me a silky smooth or pin straight blowout, I hate the way my face looks. (That’s also why I don’t use a flat iron.) At the same time, frizz is my nemesis so I like my blowouts to prevent or minimize the frizz without compromising the volume I want. That’s a tall order, huh?

Luckily, like any good Southern city, Charleston has a few blowout bars. I wanted to try one in walking distance of my house, so I chose Blo at 430 King Street, and I’m very happy that I did. Shayla has done my hair twice and she is awesome. She listened to everything I said at my first appointment, and I left there with the perfect blowout. I had volume at the crown, big curls at the ends and no frizz. Shayla answered all of my questions about which products to use and she said she would record it all in my file. And she did, because when I went back the second time, she gave me the same perfect blowout without me saying anything. She’ll be sick of seeing my diamond shaped face by the end of winter, but I’m so glad I found Shayla and Blo.

Making my hair look better since late 2018.

This Hamstring Stretch. A few months ago, I was having pain while running. Every time I stepped down, I felt a jolt of pain in my right foot. My family chiropractor, Dr. Pete, fixed me and I was able to get back into my marathon-like running routes (just kidding, more like two miles) the next day. He said that part of my problem was that my hamstrings were tight, so he told me to get some rope and do¬†this hamstring stretch every day. It was hard to do at first, but I’ve noticed a difference since I started. Ten reps on each leg every day keeps the foot pain away.

She’d probably have an easier time if she was stretching her hamstrings regularly.

The Fix on Netflix. Yes, another comedy show on Netflix. It’s not a standup special though–it’s a panel show hosted by British comic, Jimmy Carr. Every episode features comics D.L. Hughley and Katherine Ryan, as well as two guest comics. They break off into two teams to debate and come up with a (usually joking) solution to hot topic issues. Then the live studio audience votes for the solution they like best, and the winning team gets…nothing.

I laughed out loud–a lot–at every episode of The Fix. I think it was one of the funniest shows–including standup specials–to hit Netflix in 2018. Every guest was hilarious, and I wish this could be a weekly show. I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I already want to go re-watch it. If you have any sense of humor at all, you’ll love it too.

SO good.

White Noise Machine. In 2010, I moved into a third floor apartment in Newport. My second floor neighbor was an elderly night owl gentleman who loved watching The History Channel. Why do I know so much about him? Because on my first night there, he had his television on alllllll night, turned up so loud that I could hear every word on every show about wars that he watched. It didn’t take me long to buy a sound machine to (try) to block out my forced nocturnal history lessons. The machine I bought had a few options: Rain, Rainforest, Beach, White Noise and Heartbeat. Rainforest and Beach had too many annoying bird sounds, and White Noise sounded scratchy. The ominous thumping of Heartbeat would surely make me dream of murderers, so my only option was Rain.

That was almost a decade ago, and I still have to sleep with some kind of non-History Channel sound on. I downloaded the Relax Rain app a while back because I got sick of bringing my sound machine (when I love something I love it) every time I had to sleep somewhere else. Relax Rain is a good app, but sometimes it doesn’t block out noise as much as an actual sound machine.

When I moved into my Charleston apartment this year, I discovered I have a loud upstairs neighbor (or did at first). Relax Rain wasn’t cutting it and my sound machine is packed in my storage unit, so I did some research and discovered¬†this white noise machine. It’s got 20 white noise and fan sounds, so there’s something for all of my fellow light sleepers and¬†HSPs¬†out there. I (thank the Lord) have not heard any thumping around from the upstairs neighbors since I got the white noise machine, but I have used it to block out the construction sounds from my across-the-yard neighbor’s house, and it’s working surprisingly well. I now prefer white noise to rain sounds, which I didn’t expect. What can I say? I’m always evolving.

My new preferred sound.

Fleet Feet. If you are a hardcore runner like me (I joke, I joke), you have to wear good sneakers. I’ve worn crap sneakers in the past and ended up with foot pain, back pain, knee pain, and of course, blisters. A few years back, I found a pair of Asics that I loved, and I kept buying the same ones each time I wore out a pair. When I went to buy them last summer, I was told they had been discontinued. I bought what was supposed to be the most comparable pair, but they were wack. My toe busted through the top after only two months–it usually takes about a year for me to wear them out that much–but worse than that, they were squeaky. Each step I took,¬†squeak, squeak. It was embarrassing!

I threw the squeaky sneaks out and asked around for a good sneaker shop in the Charleston area. Several people directed me to¬†Fleet Feet in Mt. Pleasant, and I’m so glad that they did. Not only do I love my new, quiet kicks, but the whole experience was great. Chris H. greeted me soon after I walked in and explained the process. He had me take off my shoes and socks and walk about 10 feet (I don’t really know how much 10 feet is, so that could be wrong) and back a couple times. Then I stepped onto a machine that scanned my feet and measured the size, width and arch of my feet. My left foot is a 5.5 and my right foot is a 5.8 and I wish I didn’t know that, but Chris said it was normal.

After my foot scan, Chris brought out three pairs of shoes for me to try. He then said I could take a little run in the parking lot to test them out, which I did. I’ve bought a lot of sneakers in my life and no one has ever suggested I run in them, so I loved that. Chris was super knowledgeable and nice, and not at all pushy, which I appreciated. My new sneakers (Nikes, because I’m mad at you, Asics) are comfortable, squeak-free and cute. I had an awesome experience at Fleet Feet and would recommend it to anyone who needs good sneakers sold by people who know what they are talking about. They have locations in most of states in the US, so just go there already.

Ready to Forrest Gump it now.

AND NOW FOR THE OUTRO

I know it’s weird that this is a beauty blog and there is only one beauty fave in here, but I’ve been sick for a couple months so I wasn’t really in the trying-new-products mood. I’ve been feeling, if not fully human, at least halfway there lately, so I’ll make a point to review some new beauty products soon. Until then, I hope you’ve found this post helpful, or at least entertaining. And if you live in an area of the country where it’s cold right now and you need something to look forward to, there are only 62 days left until spring!

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

Life On My Terms

Let me be your personal Makeupese Rosetta Stone.

I’ve taken a lot of language classes in my life. Six years of Spanish between middle school and high school. Three years of Latin. (Who cares if I had to take Latin I twice? I couldn’t carpe the diem the first time around.) A few months of Italian at Mount Carmel church in Worcester, MA, with a wonderfully energetic teacher named Angelo Villani. One semester of Italian I in college, the highlight of that being the time my professor asked “Does anyone know what they call ‘The Mafia’ in Italian?” to which I responded “La Cosa Nostra” and then quietly “But there’s no such thing.” (Only 10% of you will get that joke, but I’m still proud of it.)

Even after all of those classes, I was only able to pick up one other language. And it wasn’t even one I studied! It’s called Makeupese, and I’m not only fluent in it, but I’m also a (self certified) translator. Makeup artists, beauty editors, YouTube gurus and just those in the know will often throw out Makeupese beauty terms, forgetting that we are speaking a different language. So I’m here to help you understand the language of my people.

I did a post like this a while back, but there are new terms now, so you deserve an updated post. Let’s do this.

Airbrush Makeup:¬†Makeup applied from a machine that sprays out a fine mist of product via an airbrush “gun” (mechanical applicator). Airbrush is said to be longer lasting than traditional makeup formulations, but I think that depends on the brand of airbrush, the products you are comparing it to and how it is applied.

Airbrush makeup
Spray it, don’t say it.

Baking:¬†A technique created by drag queens to super-set makeup using loose powder. (See below for “setting” definition.) The powder is left on the skin for 5 – 10 minutes while body heat sets it into the previously applied foundation and/or concealer. Then the powder is brushed off.

I’ll keep my opinion on baking to myself today (but you can find it in some of my other posts).

Buffing Brush: A short bristle dense face brush used to blend face makeup. It can also be used to apply liquid foundation and highlighter. It can be a flat or angled brush.

Makeup buffing brush
Get buff.

Contouring: Everyone has heard this term by now (thanks, Kardashians.) Contouring is using a dark color to make an area recede. We use contouring to minimize the width or length of a feature. Keep in mind that contouring is different for each face shape and for the shape of any feature(s) you want to contour, so beware of which contour tutorials you watch. If you have a different face shape than the person contouring and you duplicate that look on yourself, it will backfire.

My favorite picture to use when discussing contouring.

Cat Eye: An eyeliner look that is thickest and angled at the outer corners. A true cat eye will also feature a thin line of liner all the way in to the tearduct. A cat eye is not for those who want a subtle look, but it’s fire if you can pull it off.

Meow.

Color Wash: Using one shade of eyeshadow for the entire eye. This the most simple eyeshadow look you can do in terms of steps. It’s perfect for a bold or bright eyeshadow, if you keep the rest of your makeup toned down.

Keep it simple. Pairing this look with a heavy contour, black liquid liner and a bold lip would kill it.

Crease: Also known as the “socket.” It’s the space above the eyelid and under the browbone where skin and bone structure dips in. There is no visible crease present on those with hooded or monolid eyes–and that’s okay! There are no bad eye shapes.

See the area above the makeup brush that has a curve of darker eyeshadow? That’s the crease.

Cupid’s Bow: The curve at the center of the top lip. Highlighting that area of skin between the two peaks makes lips look slightly fuller.

You can exaggerate the Cupid’s Bow with lipliner.

Cut Crease: An eyeshadow technique popularized in the 1960s using a light color on the lid and a much darker color in the crease. This is a go-to look in the drag community, and with Instaglam makeup looks.

Cut crease
Cut it out.

Dewy Skin: Skin that has been enhanced with luminizing and radiance-providing skincare and/or makeup to look like there is a sheen on the high points of the face. For more about this look, check out one of my most popular blog posts ever.

This isn’t as easy as it looks.

Doe Foot Applicator: A spongy tip wand applicator found primarily in lip products and cream eyeshadows. It can flat or angled.

You know the type.

Dupe:¬†Short for “duplicate.” You’ll most often hear this term used when someone has or wants to find a very similar product or shade at a lower price, or when a product has been discontinued and someone has or is looking for its next of kin.

This is what a dupe comparison looks like out in the wild.

Foiling: Using a powder eyeshadow or eyeshadow pigment with a mixing medium (cream or liquid). This creates a liquid eyeshadow effect.

Foiled again.

Fallout:¬†Usually used in reference to eyeshadow. It’s any extra shadow that falls under the eye or onto the face while shadow is being applied. It’s the reason why makeup artists like me do the eyes first!

Sometimes fallout gets caught in the eyelashes then releases itself little by little each time you blink. Tapping the brush like you’re ashing a cigarette before you apply shadow will help minimize the risk out fallout.

Flare Lashes: Also known as clusters or individual lashes, these false lashes come in groups of 6-8 lashes instead of strips that are the length of the lashline. They come in different colors, lengths and thicknesses and can be built up. They tend to look more natural and stay on better than strip lashes.

My personal favorites.

Highlight: Using a light color to draw attention to a feature or area of the face.¬† Commonly used on cheekbones, brownbones, inner corners of eyes and above the Cupid’s Bow.

Allison Barbera Beauty
Cheekbone highlight on an AB Beauty bride. Photo: Move Mountains Co.

Hooded Lid: An eye that has no visible crease. Sometimes that’s the way a person’s eye is naturally, and other times it happens as a person ages and the skin under the eyebrow starts to sag and fold over the crease.

See how you can’t see her eyelid or a crease? That’s a hooded lid.

Juicy Skin: An amped up version of dewy skin, popularized by pro makeup artist, Katie Jane Hughes.

Katie with her signature juicy skin (and a dope orange eye).

Kit: A makeup artist’s supply of tools and products.

Gotta be prepared for everything.

Illuminating: Products that contain some kind of light reflecting particles. Great for places you want to highlight.  Stay away from illuminating products if you have oily skin, because they can make the skin look more oily.

A luminizing primer.

Matte: Products with absolutely no shimmer or shine.

Matte face makeup.

MUA: Stands for “Make Up Artist.” I prefer “Makeup Artist,” but no one says “MA,” because Massachusetts already claimed that.

But it’s my home state, so I can’t get mad.

No Makeup Makeup: A very natural makeup look that is meant to look like the wearer does not have any makeup on. No Makeup Makeup products are meant to match the area they are being applied to. No red lips or black liner with this look!

Oh, she has makeup on.

Non-comedogenic: Means that the product will not clog pores. But I think that any makeup you don’t fully remove at night has the potential to clog pores, so this doesn’t mean “you don’t need to wash it off.”

Neutrogena is known for its non-comedogenic products.

Outer V: Used in reference to the section of the eye from the outer end of the crease to the outer end of the lashline.¬† Drawing a little “v” here (with the point going towards the hairline) works well with a lot of eye makeup looks.

See it?

Prepping The Skin: Applying skincare products to the skin prior to a makeup application so that makeup goes on smoother and looks better than straight away applying makeup to the face.

What I’ve been using as part of my personal skin prep lately.

Primer: A face, eye or lip product put on prior to foundation, eye makeup or lip color to help the products stay on longer. They also give a good base and help provide a smoother, more even surface for the products.

My favorite lip primer.

Setting: Using a powder or spray to lock in the makeup that has been applied. Some makeup artists do not consider cream and liquid products to be set until they have been layered over with a powder or setting spray. Setting allows the products underneath the setting product to last longer, as the setting product provides a barrier between the skin and the oils that naturally come through and break down products.

A pro favorite setting powder.

Sheer: Minimal coverage products that have a hint of color, so that you can still see through to the skin.

If you see freckles through makeup, it’s sheer foundation.

Spoolie: You know what a standard mascara wand looks like, right? A spoolie is just product-free version of that designed for brushing brow hairs into place and combing through lashes to get rid of clumps.

Simple but effective.

Smokey Eye: A true smokey eye is an eyeshadow look that is on a gradient with the colors. The darkest color gets applied at the upper lashline with colors in the same color family getting lighter as they go up towards the crease or middle of the eye area. It also includes a gradient effect on at the lower lashline, except the darkest color starts at the top (right at the lashes) with lighter colors in the same family below that. The lighter colors above (top lid) and below (bottom lashline) the darker colors give that “smoke” effect. Contrary to what you’ve probably seen, heard or read before, a smokey eye is not darker shadow at the Outer V or black liner in the waterline.

Do you smoke?

Smoked Out: This is what we call it when a liner has a lighter color above it at the upper lashline or below it at the lower lashline. (Also, what you might be if you spent some time with Snoop.) This doesn’t have to part of a smokey eye, though. You could have a contoured eye or a cut crease with a smoked out liner.

Smoked out winged liner.

Stippling: An foundation application technique using a stippling brush (for liquid foundation) or a sponge (for powder foundation) to press the product into the skin. For powder, you load the sponge with product, place it onto the skin, press down, move to the next section and repeat. With a stippling brush…I’ll just let¬†Wayne explain. Stippling generally gives more coverage than a powder puff or flat foundation brush.

How you stipple.

Strobing: It’s just layered highlighting without contouring nearby to provide contrast. Strobing is done on the cheekbones, temples, bridge of the nose and on the Cupid’s Bow. Normally a cream or liquid concealer in a shade lighter than the skin is applied first, then set with a powder that matches that concealer, then topped with a powder highlight. Some people also use a cream highlighter layered with a powder highlighter.

Strobed out.

Tightlining: Lining the upper inside eyelid with a pencil eyeliner, usually in a black shade. This can help make top lashes look fuller.

Tightlining in process.

Transfer: When a mascara or eyeliner smudges onto the eyelid, crease, or browbone before it has dried.

Eyeliner transfer.

Waterline: The inside lower eyelid. Lining here with a dark color makes the look more dramatic and makes the eyes look smaller. An off-white liner here will open up the eyes.

Using an off-white to line the waterline.

Winged Liner: Eyeliner that extends past the end of the eye on the upper lashline and is angled upwards, giving the illusion of a lifted and elongated shape.

Just wingin’ it.

Look at you now! Talking like a pro. The quiz will be on Tuesday, so get ready, class…

If you need clarification or have any terms I missed, fire away (aka comment).

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

Per Request: My Skincare Routine

Me with no face makeup on except a small amount of undereye concealer. No filters or retouching used.

A while back, I posted on the Allison Barbera Beauty Facebook page asking what kind of posts people would like to read. I got a lot of great suggestions, and I will get to all of the topics.

Since it is the start of a new year, it seems fitting to begin with a post about my skincare routine, requested by AB Beauty makeup artist and hair stylist, Candie. As I’ve said before in this blog, I can give you all the makeup tips in the world, but if you aren’t taking care of your skin, your makeup can only look so good.

Skincare routines should be customized for your skin type and concerns, so what works for me may not make sense for you. Let me first tell you what I have going on, as some of my product choices are based around that. My skin is combination with visible pores on and around my nose. I get oily in the T-zone during the warmer months. I have some fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes. I have hyperpigmentation (some freckles and small sun spots) on my face. I also have melasma above my upper lip. I do not have acne, but I occasionally break out on my jawline and chin. My nose is prone to blackheads. So my skincare routine is based around keeping my skin clear, hydrated, moisturized and slowing down the visible signs of aging. Any of that sound like your skin or skin concersns? Even if not, I’ll provide alternate products suggestions for different skin type and concerns.

Ready? Sure you are.

Cleanser. I cleanse once a day, at night. When I was in school for Esthetics, we were taught that unless you have very oily skin, a nightly cleanse is all that’s needed. They told us that the twice-a-day cleanse idea was created by the beauty industry so that they could sell double the cleanser. And that makes sense to me. Because if you are properly cleansing your face before bed, your pillowcase is clean and you don’t live inside a fume-filled factory, how dirty is your skin getting while you sleep? It’s much more important to cleanse at night to not only remove your makeup and sunscreen if you wear it, but also all of the dirt, oil and bacteria that latched onto your skin during the day. Because if you sleep with all of that on your face, guess what you’re asking for? BREAKOUTS.

To properly remove everything that you applied to your skin, and what showed up there uninvited during the day, you need to bring in a truly thorough product. And that product is–say it with me–oil cleanser. I’ve talked about this many times, because in my humble yet experienced and licensed opinion, oil is the only thing that fully removes makeup. And don’t worry–it won’t make you breakout. It will actually help prevent acne, since it removes the crap that can cause blemishes to appear. My current favorite oil cleanser is the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. It works for all skin types, and it’s¬†vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without GMO, formaldehyde, and synthetic fragrance.

If you have a cream, gel or lotion cleanser that you love though, I’ll still let you use it. But I strongly recommend using an oil pre-cleanse first to remove your makeup.¬†Dermalogica Precleanse is the gold standard of pre-cleanses, so if you are not going to go full oil cleanser, cop this. A little goes a long way so you won’t need to re-stock it often.

Have truly oily skin? If you wake up shining bright like a diamond every day, I give you permission to use a gentle cream cleanser (like¬†Clinique Liquid Facial Soap in Mild) to remove the surface oils. (I also sometimes do this myself if I’ve used an overnight mask or something that leaves a little residue on the skin.)¬† The thing with oily skin though is that you don’t want to use anything too strong that strips the skin of its natural¬†oils. You know that squeaky clean, tight feeling? That’s the skin being stripped of those oils. If you regularly do that to oily skin, your skin says “Our oil is being depleted! Ramp up production!” Then it produces more oil, and your plan backfires. So if you have oily skin and you feel the need to cleanse twice, just make sure that morning cleanse isn’t setting you up for failure.

This will melt your makeup right off.

Moisturizer. I don’t care who you are or what your skin type is–you need to moisturize every day. I do not go a day without moisturizing, ever. All skin contains fats and oils that will prevent it from completely drying out and cracking open (if I need to gross you out to get my point across, I will), but it needs help. Moisturizer will deliver that assistance and will make your skin feel softer. It also plumps up the skin so that fine lines and wrinkles are less noticeable, and it has a smoothing effect that allows makeup to go on much better. I use¬†Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 35 which is great for normal, combination and oily skin.

For dry skin, I recommend¬†Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre (although it contains almond oil, so not the best choice for those with almond allergies).¬†Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer is another good option for dry skin.¬†And there’s nothing that says you can’t switch moisturizers if you have combination skin that changes with the weather. If you get oily in the warmer months and dry in the colder months, use an oil-free moisturizer when it’s sandals weather and a more hydrating moisturizer when it’s boots weather. But make sure you are moisturizing every day if you want good skin.

A makeup artist fave for dry skin.

Sunscreen.¬†Not only can sun damage cause skin cancer, but it is the number one cause of visible premature aging. It not only causes some types of hyperpigmentation (like age spots), but UVA rays–which Esthetics school taught us to think of as “Ultra Violet Aging rays”–penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and break down collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are what keep the skin firm, so when they are attacked, wrinkles, fine lines and sagging show up. Sunscreen protects the skin from that damage, so it’s a must.

My moisturizer contains sunscreen, but I also use a separate sunscreen if I’m going to be outside for long. I used to use the¬†Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Face Moisturizing Sunscreen but was given¬†Glossier Invisible Shield for Christmas, so I’ll patch test that and as long as my skin approves and it doesn’t leave a white cast on my face (which I HATE), I’ll be making the switch. If you’re thinking “But Allison, I like the way I look tan!,” I get it. I like the way I look with a tan too. But I haven’t gotten a real tan for years, and that is part of why my skin is in good shape. The skin is the body’s largest organ, so I’d rather take care of that and fake it ’til I make it with¬†Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops.

On my “To Try” list.

Hyaluronic Acid. H.A., as I call it, is one of my favorite skincare product discoveries of the last five years. And it’s one that’s suitable for all skin types. Everyone I have ever recommended it to has told me they saw results soon after using it. So what is H.A., you ask? It’s a substance that our body naturally produces that helps hold in collagen and lubricates joints and tissues. It gets depleted as we age, but luckily we can add it back to the skin topically. I’ve already written a whole other¬†post¬†about it, so you can get more details there, and I strongly encourage you to read that. H.A. is an essential part of my skincare routine, and is one of the few skincare products you will notice a difference from early on.

It’s the best hydrator out there, and we could all use some hydration. Even oily skin can be dehydrated, so don’t go scrolling to the next section yet if you’re thinking “I don’t need that!”. When the skin is dehydrated, that means it lacks water. When the skin is dry, that means it lacks oil. If you are unsure what dehydrated skin looks like, look in the mirror when you are hungover, battling the stomach bug or have just gotten off a flight. Those are all common causes of loss or lack of fluids, which your skin is happy to announce you have via dullness, flaking or more pronounced fine lines. I’m no doctor so I’m not going to advise you about systemic dehydration, but if you can see the signs of skin dehydration on your face, get yourself some H.A.

USE THIS.

Retinoids. Retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, is one of the the only scientifically proven anti-aging ingredients. Prescription retinoids contain retinoic acid, while non-prescription retinoids (aka retinol, the general term which I am guilty of using for my prescription retinoid cream) products have to be converted into retinoic acid at the cellular level. Basically, a retinol will take longer to show results because of the retinoic acid conversion time. So why not go in the with the big guns right off the bat and use a prescription retinoid?

I started using a prescription retinoid (Trentinoin Cream 0.05%) when I was 33 and three years later, my skin looks pretty much the same. People are frequently surprised by my age, and I think my boo Trentinoin plays a big part in that. For more on retinoids, check out this post.

The good stuff.

Exfoliation. I personally don’t exfoliate since I am on Trentinoin and exfoliation is contraindicated with retinoids, but I am including it because it’s something I did before I was on Trentinoin. I still think a prescription retinoid cream is the way to go if you are over 30, but if you’re under 30 or can’t/won’t use a retinoid, I recommend regular exfoliation.

Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells from the top layer of skin, making it feel softer and allowing makeup to go on more smoothly. If you leave those dead skin cells to chill on your epidermis, your skin will look dull and your makeup might get patchy as it grabs onto those cells who have crossed over. I’ve been out of the exfoliation game for a minute, but I can tell you that when I was in it, I preferred chemical (aka enzyme) exfoliation over physical (aka manual or scrub) exfoliation, as chemical exfoliation is more gentle. When exfoliation was part of my normal routine, I liked¬†Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment¬†(they also make a gentle version for sensitive skin).¬†Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant¬†is another good one.

You can get a sample of this at most Sephoras.

Blackhead Extraction. When I notice blackheads on my nose, I do extractions on the area. I’m a licensed esthetician so I can confidently do extractions in a way that I know won’t cause scarring. If you are not an esthetician, I recommend periodically going to one for a facial, which should include extractions. You can also use the¬†Biore Pore Strips, which can remove some blackheads. If those don’t work for you, schedule a facial and make sure that you are thoroughly cleansing each night, as going to bed with a dirty face is a great way to get blackheads.

An oldie but a goodie.

Face Oil. Don’t be scared of face oil. Oil does not always = breakouts. Think of it as a souped up moisturizer, okay? I have been using the¬†Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil¬†for several years, and my skin is better person for it. Face oil is one of the skincare products I noticed almost immediately results from. I use it a couple nights in a week in the winter, when my skin is on the dry side. I apply it at night and let it absorb while I sleep. I use it year-round when I do facial massages, which really help when my skin is looking dull. (Lisa Eldridge explains that well¬†here.) I reach for it as a sort of spot treatment if I get dry patches, which crop up if I’ve used too much Trentinoin, after I’ve been sick and my skin is dehydrated or when frigid weather causes dry patches and flaking. In those cases, I apply a small amount to the dry patches and it always heals them within a couple of days. Lastly, I use face oil 20 minutes after my Trentinoin if I have noticed any recent peeling or redness from it.

For more info on the Josie Maran Argan Oil, I’ve got another¬†post¬†for you! Unless you have truly acneic skin–in which case I recommend limiting your products until your acne has cleared, as adding anything new can irritate your already irritated skin–face oil should be part of your routine.

The Queen Bee of moisturizers.

Spot Treatments. As I mentioned, I get the occasional blemish. When I do, I use a spot treatment to attack it overnight. If it’s a small whitehead or a pustule, I first try to get it with salicylic acid. I like the¬†Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel. If that doesn’t do it, or if I’m dealing with a papule, I go after it with¬†Persa-Gel 10, a kickass benzoyl peroxide treatment.

If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about with my acne terminology, I can help with that. Clickety click click¬†here.

A drugstore gem.

Face Masks. I’m not a mask addict, mostly because I already have enough steps in my routine and they work well. But I do like to use the¬†Clarins Beauty Flash Balm¬†every week or two, especially if my skin is looking dull or tired. I think this is a great mask that should work on all skin types, but if you have a specific skin concern you want to address, there’s probably a mask for it. Charcoal and mud masks are great for oily skin, while Vitamin E, avocado, and shea butter masks will make dry skin happy. If you have sensitive skin, look for masks that contain oatmeal, honey or aloe.

My go-to mask.

Hydroquinone.¬†Let’s start with the definition of melasma. It’s a hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) that appears in gray-brown patches, usually on the face but sometimes on other areas of the body. Melasma is caused by birth control pills, pregnancy, hormone therapy and sun exposure. I think my upper lip melasma came from sun exposure. I regrettably had some serious sunbathing days in my 20s, and I started to pay for it a few years later via creases on my chest, moles that had to be scraped off or gouged out of my body, and melasma. Even though I did always wear sunscreen on my face, during pool days in the hot Florida sun, I could feel my face sweating, particularly at my hairline (where I also have faint melasma) and my above my upper lip. My theory is that the sweat on those areas broke down the sunscreen and allowed the sun damage to kick my melanocytes (pigment-producing skin cells) into overdrive.

My melasma got worse as I got older. Even though I was keeping my face protected from the sun, cumulative sun damage can take a while to appear. My dermatologist prescribed Hydroquinone 4% Cream to diminish the darkness above my lip. Hydroquinone is a skin bleaching cream and although some people says it’s harmful, I ran it by my MD/ND (medical doctor and naturopath) and he gave me the okay. You are supposed to only use it for three months at a time, which I do mostly during the warmer months, as that is when I notice the melasma most. It’s definitely faded to the point where I forget I even have it, but sometimes it crops back up, at which point I start my three months again.

If you don’t have melasma, this of course doesn’t need to be a part of your routine. And even if you do have it, Hydroquinone might not be the best choice for you. Get thee to a derm and go from there. But since I am telling you all of the products I use, I had to mention this one.

And this is what melasma looks like.

Sleep. This sometimes elusive skincare “product” is just as important as the rest. Even if I am doing everything else right, if I’m not sleeping enough, my skin does not look its best. I realize we can’t all regularly get as much sleep as we need, but lack of sleep does affect how your skin looks. I have to mention it because if you’re only clocking a few hours of sleep most nights, I don’t want you to say “I’m using all of the products Allison said and my skin doesn’t look good!” and think it’s my fault.

I obviously have a post about sleep too. I have an opinion on everything.

 

Getting my beauty sleep.

Supplements & A Clean Diet. I’m not a medical professional (although I have referred to myself as an “amateur doctor” before), but I do think what you put inside your body has as much of an impact as what you put on your skin. For example, I don’t mess with too much sugar because it makes me feel like shit. When I do, I not only feel gross but the fine lines around my eyes are more pronounced the next day. I don’ think I’m imagining that, and studies do show that sugar can break down collagen, aka accelerate the formation of lines and wrinkles. You mean the very things I am trying so hard to avoid?!?!

In general, I’ve found that when I take the supplements I personally need (fish oil, iron, probiotics, multivitamins and some stuff that helps with hormonal issues I was born with), I feel better. When I physically don’t feel well, it shows up on my face. Think about it. What does someone’s complexion look like when they are ill? Bright and glowy, or pale and dull-looking?

I was a vegetarian for six years (ages 12 – 18) and my skin did not look great. I wasn’t breaking out, but my skin was sallow and my undereye circles were even darker than they normally are. Turns out my body thrives on protein and iron, and I wasn’t able to get the amount I needed from a plant-based diet. Although I would prefer to not eat meat, I didn’t feel great–and my skin showed that–when I was, so I had to make the change.

My point is, finding the right combination of foods and supplements (if that’s your jam) helps you have a healthier system, and your skin is included in that.

Luckily I don’t have to take THAT many supplements in a day.

Wow, you made it through this whole post? Congratulations! I hope you have found it helpful. I know it may sound like a lot, but it’s not that bad. The total time needed for my evening routine (not including the wait time in the Trentinoin process, which I detail in the post linked in the Retinoids section) is maybe 15 minutes. In the morning–normally just hylaluronic acid, moisturizer and sometimes sunscreen–it’s around five minutes. It probably took you longer to read this post that it takes for me to do my morning routine. I barely even count my bi-weekly mask time, as it takes about 30 seconds to apply it and maybe three minutes to thoroughly wash it off. When I do a facial massage with the Josie Maran Argan Oil, that can take 15 minutes, but I do that while watching something, so it’s multi-tasking. Extractions are on an as-needed basis, and that’s an under-ten-minutes process as well.

The hardest parts of getting into a skincare routine are finding the products that work for you and then getting into the habit of using them. And sorry, but there is no shortcut there. Hopefully my recommendations have helped, but actually doing the routine is on you.

If you have any questions, comment away. I am here for you and your skin.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

The Sweet Taste of Freedom

Yes! That feeling! Minus the havoc that mist would wreak on my hair.

I’ve often said that one of the best things about entrepreneurship is the freedom. I’ve been a ladyboss since 2008, but it was really 2011–the year I was able to stop working other jobs to get by–that I really felt the freedom. For me, the ability to make my own schedule is invaluable. You could offer me a job making three times what I make now, but if I had to work off a schedule and answer to someone else, forget it. Keep your own (restricting) money, I’d say.

I want to get into the nitty gritty of what types of freedom I have, thanks to my boss (me). If you are considering opening a business or going freelance and the idea of schedule freedom is part of why you want to do that, read on.

Sleeping In. I know, I know–I’ve talked about this before. A lot. But as someone who is a shitty, unproductive person when she is sleep deprived, I really value the opportunities I get to sleep in. And I don’t mean until 11:00am. To me, sleeping in is waking up when my body wants to. Sometimes that’s 7:00am. Sometimes it’s 8:30am. I usually don’t make it past the 9:00am mark but hey, if my body wanted to do that one day and I didn’t have morning clients or a meeting, I’d do it. After having to wake up earlier than my body wanted to for all of elementary school, middle school, high school, some of college, esthetics school and every job I worked before I opened my business, I’m over it. Sleeping in feels like luxury, but it’s really just a job perk.

Booking Flights. For the most part, I am able to book flights on the cheapest days. For example, say I wanted to go to Nashville next fall (which I do, because I always want to go to Nashville). As long as it’s far enough out and my calendar hasn’t been filled in too much, I can choose my dates based off the cheapest flights. 11:00am on a Thursday $100 cheaper than 5:20pm on a Friday? Late morning on Thirsty Thursday it is.¬† I’ve probably saved a couple thousand dollars in flights thanks to my business owning ways.

Saving that $.

Sick Days. I don’t get paid sick time and there are times when I have do jobs even when I am sick because I am under contract or have no one to cover me. But when I am sick for a longgggg time–like I have been this fall–being my own boss has allowed me to take time to rest for weeks at a time without using up all of my sick time or going on medical leave and taking a pay cut. I mean, yes, I’ve still had to work running my business, but I can answer emails and phone calls from bed, and I can keep those to a minimum outside of wedding season. With my recent illness, I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to leave work for the many doctors appointments I’ve had. When I’m sick, I just take care of what I need to take care of, do only the urgent or time sensitive business things I need to do, and rest as much as I can, without worrying about using up all of my paid time off.

Workout Schedule. There are some workouts I do at home, and I do those whenever. I can get off a phone call then do crunches on the middle of my office floor without anyone reporting me to my supervisor, which is nice. But what¬† I really love is that as a half-ass runner (usually only a couple miles per run), I can go out on my runs depending on the weather. Rainstorms rolling in at 4:00pm? No problem. I’ll head out at 2:00pm. When I worked at 9-5 jobs, I could only run at night (6:00am workouts made me want to vomit, so evenings were the only option). On the evenings that were rainy, snowy or brutally cold after the sun went down, I’d have to skip my run. Now I just check weather app radars and hourly forecasts so I have no excuse.

Running Errands. Ah, the other kind of running I do. I like to be very efficient with my errands, because, I mean, I’ve got work to do. Creating my own schedule means I can run those errands when places aren’t busy. Grocery shopping at 12:00pm on a Tuesday takes half the time as it would the same time on a Saturday. In fact, I do most of my errands mid-day during the week. I don’t have to scramble to get out of work and through rush hour traffic to make it to the dry cleaner’s by 5:30pm. I just stroll on over at 1:00pm, enjoy no line and take that white sweater right on home. It’s glorious.

The freedom that entrepreneurship is huge to me. It means I can build my days–and therefore my lifestyle–the way I want. I can’t think of a better job perk.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

 

AB Beauty 2018 Weddings Highlights

We’ve had a fantastic, busy, fun, record-breaking wedding season this year! And it’s not over yet–we’ve got two more this month.

In honor of our lovely clients and the stellar work my team has done this wedding season, I’d like to share a few great photos. I am still in the process of getting professional photos from this season so we have a lot more to come, but since this year is just about over, it seemed fitting to do this now.

Thank you to every bride, bridesmaid, Jr. Bridesmaid, mother, grandmother, aunt and Flower Girl we worked with this year. Thank you to the wedding planners, venues, past clients, friends and relatives who have referred us. Thank you to the photographers who have let us share their photos. And as always, thanks to my rockstar team. For the 2018 season, that was hair stylists Alex, Ana, Ann, Candie, Emily, Jen G., Kerri and Liza and makeup artists Ainslie, Alexis, Candie (pulling double duty), Chantal, Emma, Jen S., Katie and Kristin.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

 

Photos: Katie Lovaas Photography
Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Jennifer Smith for Allison Barbera Beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Ludwig Photography
Hair: Allison Barbera Beauty
Makeup: Katie Gallogly for Allison Barbera Beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ImPOREtant Stuff: How To Minimize the Look of Large Pores

I’m sure you were dying to see a closeup of some pores today.

Back in the day, the only skin concerns you heard about were acne and wrinkles. Women’s magazines focused on wrinkles, while teen magazines were all about preventing or covering acne. The only times you heard the word “pores” was when an article told you to splash your face with cold water after cleansing to close the pores. (And hey, it doesn’t work that way–cold water will temporarily stop the pores from producing oil, but they don’t completely close up from it, which is a good thing.)

Then, in 1996, Biore Pore strips happened. “Pore” became a dirty word. Everyone wanted the gunk (technical term) ripped out of their skin and shown satisfyingly on a piece of what appeared to be hardened cotton. Cleaning out pores wasn’t just a fad. It became an obsession in the beauty world, later followed by the need minimize those clear–but still visible–pores.

We’ve all been strippers.

And I get it. Clogged pores cause blackheads and other kinds of acne, and pores are more obvious and look bigger when they are clogged. And large pores–even when they are cleaned out–don’t make for a sought-after skin texture, hence the creation of pore minimizing makeup.

If you are engaged in a war with your pores, I may be able to assist with your battle strategy. I got your plan all laid out.

Cleanse. First of all, you gotsta cleanse every night. Remove your makeup first then cleanse your skin (or use an oil cleanser and kill two birds with one stone). What do you think clogs pores? A lovely mix of dirt, oil, makeup, dead skin cells, sweat and bacteria. Properly removing your makeup and cleansing will get a lot of that junk away from your pores, so if you skip this important step, you’re making your pores vulnerable to attack.

Exfoliate. Dead skin cells are like that last guest at your party–they won’t leave until you make them. They stay on skin and hide inside pores, and the only way to get them out is by exfoliating. You can use a physical exfoliant (aka a scrub) or a enzyme exfoliant, but either way, regular exfoliation–2 – 3 times a week–is an important part of keeping your pores un-clogged. Salicylic acid is an exfoliating ingredient that works especially well with clogged pores, so keep that one in mind. (Skip this step if you use a retinoid or any other product that is contraindicated with exfoliation.)

Get A Facial. An esthetician will do extractions during a facial, and those extractions will get rid of any clogged business you couldn’t get out yourself. It’s best to have extractions (the manual emptying of blackheads and whiteheads) done by a professional, because many a “I can do this myself” extraction has resulted in scarring.

Extractions done right.

Pore Minimizer. If your pores are clean but still visible, a pore minimizer will be your best friend. Pore mimimizers temporarily fill in pores without clogging them so that makeup can apply smoothly over those areas. I use a pore minimizer on myself and many of my clients, and it really does make a difference.

Matte Liquid Foundation. I’ve found that sheer liquid foundations are much better on those with large pores than powder foundation. As long as a pore minimizer has been applied first, a sheer liquid foundation won’t sink into pores and highlight them the way a powder foundation can.

Stipple Your Powder. You can still use a pressed powder (more lightweight than a powder foundation) to set your foundation if you have large pores, but you’ll get the best results if you use a sponge and stipple/press a thin layer of powder over those areas as opposed to applying it with a brush.

I hope my battle plan serves you well. Godspeed, Pore Warrior.

Have a beautiful day ūüôā

 

The Beauty Gifts Guide

Or how about some setting spray?

You know what time (of year) it is. If you are still working on your holiday shopping–I know I am–and you have someone in your life who is into skincare and/or makeup, I’ve got some suggestions for you. (Or maybe you want to add these to your own holiday wish list!)

In no particular order, I present the strongest players in the beauty game.

Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. Oil cleansers are THE best way to remove makeup and cleanse the skin.

Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil. Face oils restore moisture to the skin like nobody’s business, and this one is the OG of face oils.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. The best hydrator out there. Apply this to damp skin after cleansing or showering, then follow immediately with moisturizer.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF35. Great for normal and combination skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water. If you prefer not to feel like bees are stinging your eyes when you remove your eye makeup, you’ll love this gentle makeup remover.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. My favorite face mask. This can also be used as a tightening primer under makeup.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance. What to use if you like your eyeshadow to stay on and not crease.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. The way to go if you want to pump up the volume on your lashes.

Clinique High Impact Mascara. For length and inky blackness on your lashes.

MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation. If you like your skin too look like skin when you wear foundation, try this makeup artist favorite.

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. Great for both undereye and face coverage.

MAC Oil Control Lotion. An oil minimizing product for the shiny peeps.

MAC Conceal & Correct Duo in Pure Orange/Ochre. Perfect for concealing hyperpigmentation on deep skintones.

MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger. A cult favorite red lipstick.

MAC In The Flesh Eyeshadow Palette. A solid array of neutral eyeshadows.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder. A quality drugstore pressed powder.

Algenist Green Color Correcting Drops. Use this under foundation to cancel out redness.

Algenist Apricot Color Correcting Drops. An awesome dark circle color corrector for light and medium skintones.

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Truffle. I use this dark brown eyeliner on most clients.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. I use this on anyone whose makeup needs to last alllll day.

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. Everyone should have this.

Stila Convertible Color. I use these primarily as cream blushes, but you can use them a lipcolor too.

Benefit Hoola. This matte bronzer is another cult favorite. Hoola Lite is better for fair to light skintones.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector. These powder highlighters come in several shades to compliment all skintones.

Ben Nye Banana Powder. If you are trying to conceal dark undereye circles, this should be your final step to lock in your undereye color corrector and concealer.

I hope this helps with your shopping. Happy Holidays!

Have a beautiful day ūüôā