Ever Wonder Why…

Could a kid growing up in the 90s love hip hop as much as she loved mystery book series? Damn straight. I was into Biggie Smalls, Li’l Kim and DMX as much as I was into Babysitter’s Club Mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. The former because those flows though and the latter because I like a good mystery solved by a pro.

And I’m in still into both. People come to me with their makeup mysteries and I solve ’em (often while listening to hip hop). I’m going to tell you about some cases I’ve cracked so you can look even more fly.

  1. Why do my lashes look so much longer after I put on mascara? You may think well duh, it’s the mascara. Part of it is product, but if you see a major difference with any mascara you use, it’s probably because the tips of your lashes are blonde. Even if your lashes grow in dark, the very ends of them could be blonde. So if you’re a brunette and your lashes are mostly dark, you can now nod your head knowingly when someone says “Blondes do have more fun!”
  2. I wear the same foundation as my sister but her’s stays on so much longer. What the hell? I’m pissed. Chances are your skin is more oily than your sister’s. Oil breaks down makeup so if your skin is producing more oil than your sister’s, your foundation will fade faster. Try using primer first and setting everything with a setting spray, like Urban Decay 24/7 All Nighter.  Primer gives the added benefit of making your foundation apply more smoothly, so now you’re winning the foundation game. Not that sisters ever keep score.
  3. The lipstick that I loved in the tube looks way different on my lips. What am I doing wrong? You’re doing nothing wrong, boo. It’s just that your lips have their own color which effects the color you put over it, especially when you use a sheer lip color. The more matte (opaque) a formulation is, the more it will cover your natural lip color. But if your natural lip color is darker than the lip color, even a matte lip color might not do it. If you want the true color in the tube, run a tiny bit of foundation or concealer (like the amount left on your brush or sponge after applying to your face) over your lips prior to applying lip color. There’s your blank canvas, just waiting for its perfect lip color soulmate.
  4. Why do I get dark circles when I’m tired? Annoying, right? You’re already tired from binge-watching Master of None and you look like hell? Life is so unfair. There is of course a biological reason why this happens and ways to hide your dark side from the world, which I’ve addressed in this blog post. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/i-got-plenty-of-sleep-last-night-or-how-to-make-undereye-circles-disappear/   And next time, don’t “Just one more  episode” yourself. I know how you do.
  5. I’ve been using face oil but it’s making my makeup slide off. What’s the deal? You’re either using too much, not massaging it into your skin enough or applying makeup immediately after. Typically, 1-3 drops is enough for oily skin, 2-4 drops is good for normal skin and 4-6 drops is ideal for dry skin. Apply it after your moisturizer has absorbed but at least 5 minutes before primer or foundation. I prefer to really massage it into my skin which revs up circulation and helps it absorb more quickly, but go with a patting motion if you’re on the oily side.
  6. Why does liquid foundation always look so weird on me? I think I know what  you mean by “weird.” If you went from nothing or a tinted moisturizer to a full coverage foundation, you probably aren’t used to seeing your skin without the variations in skintone, lack of redness, freckles, etc. Backtrack and try a sheer foundation like MAC Face & Body, which will let your skin show through.
  7. I tried prescription retinol but it made my skin peel. What should I do? This shit was not cheap. Don’t give up yet! Read my blog post and watch your life improve. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/forever-young-my-retinol-journey/
  8. My undereye concealer gets really caked up, no matter what kind I use. How do I make that never happen again? First things first, dab a little moisturizer under your eyes prior to applying your concealer. That primes the area and keeps product from gathering on those tiny bumps of skin. Let it sit for a few seconds, then apply concealer. A rice-grain sized amount should be enough to do both undereyes. Concentrate your concealer in the center and towards the nose, as that’s where most darkness is. After about 5 minutes, apply a very light layer of translucent powder to set the concealer. If you are not using too much concealer, this process should eliminate your problem. My favorite undereye concealer is MAC Select Coverup and Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in Transparent is my favorite translucent pressed powder.
  9. Why won’t my eyeshadow stay on? Is it afraid of commitment like every guy I date? I’m not sure what’s wrong with those jokers, but if your eyeshadow is fading fast and you’re not already using one, get yourself an eye primer. Too Faced Shadow Insurance is the gold standard, says this girl. And know that in general, drugstore eyeshadows don’t having the same staying power as higher end brands. MAC eyeshadows are fantastic and when they are paired with Shadow Insurance, you’re talking all-day strong.
  10. Why don’t I look glowy when I use the products magazines tell me to use? Because this: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-truth-about-the-dewy-look/

Now you can go about your day with a better grasp on the beauty world. It makes it less intimidating when you know how to navigate it, right?

Have a beautiful day 🙂



I Got Plenty of Sleep Last Night! or How To Make Undereye Circles Disappear

“You look tired.” Unless that is followed by “Let me take care of your workload/children/commitments for you while you sleep,” that statement might make you want to clock somebody. And I feel you, I really do. But I am a peaceful, soft-serve loving, bookworm makeup artist, so I can’t advocate physical violence. What I can do is help you cover dark circles.

A dull complexion, red eyes and lack of color in the lips are all factors that can make someone look tired. But the biggest physical indicator of exhaustion seems to be dark circles under the eyes. If that is an issue you face, we can get through this together.

Let’s first clarify that there is a difference between dark undereye circles and undereye puffy-ness (or “bags”). Both can be caused by lack of sleep (and by genetic or health factors), but they need to be addressed in different ways. On a positive note, dark circles are generally easier to correct with makeup than under eye puffy-ness.

What the hell causes these things anyway? Well, there’s not just one offender. And if you are lucky, you might have a combination of causes.

Dark circles are often apparent on people with deep set eyes (one of the hereditary factors). That’s a bone structure thing. People in this group (I’m one!) have eyes that are set further back into their face. The placement of the eyes leaves a noticeable hollow under the eyes (trying my best to explain this here), and that hollow appears shadowed. The undereye skin is super thin, and the veins in that area are (hopefully) always pumping your blood through, so you can actually see this biological process at work. If undereye skin was thicker, the concealer market would be smaller. I want to take a second to point out that although I’m sure you are surprised by this–as my medical jargon seems so professional–I am not a doctor, scientist, or even a former Biology major, so this is all information I have researched and/or learned in Esthetics school.  Also, the word “veins” makes me queasy.

Allergies or pollutants can also cause or worsen dark circles. People with environmental allergies often tell me that their dark circles are significantly less noticeable when they take allergy medicine. This is my personal belief/experience here, but I think food sensitivities and allergies can cause or worsen dark circles as well. A lot of food issues can show up on your face, whether in the form of breakouts, rashes, or dark circles. I have always had dark circles, but when I started eating the right foods for me and taking supplements, I swear they got better.

If you are dealing with any of these causes of undereye circles, lack of sleep can make them worse. Some doctors say this because your body produces more cortisol to keep you awake, which makes the blood vessels enlarge. Larger blood vessels under thin skin shows up as darkness, so there you go.

Dark undereye circles can also be due to pigmentation of the skin. In this case, melanin production has been amped up, so what you’re seeing is darker skin, not shadows from eye placement or blood under the eyes. These kind of dark circles usually need to be corrected via a dermatologist. Makeup can only cover them to a certain extent, at least in my experience.

If your dark circles are from pigmentation, you can try these steps, but you may not find them as effective. If your dark circles are from any of the other causes, these suggestions may work better for you. Here’s what I have learned in the dark circle covering department.

1) Get more sleep. Now, I understand this is not always a possibility for some people (mothers of young children come to mind). If you are losing sleep because of a baby at home, a crazy, inconsistent work schedule, major stress, or construction on the apartment under you until 2:00am (this happened to me), these are factors that are difficult to get around, so skip ahead to suggestion #2. But if you are not getting enough sleep because you insist on staying up to watch every Bravo marathon, or you just have to party until dawn every day, then hey, you’re making your own choice. My point is, if dark undereye circles are a concern for you and you can get more sleep, do it.

2) Make sure all of your eye makeup from last night is completely removed. This is actually the first step in my own makeup process. As thorough and consistent as I am with my makeup removal and face washing routine, there is usually a little bit left of eye makeup left in the morning. So before I do anything else, I put some eye makeup remover on a cotton ball and lightly wipe the area under my eye. If you don’t do this, you are potentially mixing in some of yesterday’s eye makeup with the concealer you are going to apply, which is going to make it ashy and bring more darkness to the area.

3) Put a thin layer of moisturizer under each eye. Whether you apply color corrector and concealer or just concealer next, having this layer of moisturizer as a base will allow the makeup to absorb more evenly into the skin and will keep it from caking up.

4) Consider a color corrector. When circles are very dark, a concealer only will not do the job. You need a color corrector to cancel out the darkness first. Depending on your skin color, you’ll want something that is in the peach (light to medium skin), salmon (medium to dark skin), or orange (dark skin) families. Bobbi Brown, Eve Pearl and Make Up For Ever all carry good color correctors. Color correctors are normally pretty thick, so your best bet is to scrape out a little, put it on the back of your hand and let it sit for about 30 seconds while your body heat breaks it down. Using your ring finger, apply a thin layer of the corrector to the areas that are dark (normally from underneath the inner corner to about halfway or 2/3 out). Blend it with a makeup sponge or fluffy eyeshadow brush.

5) Apply a concealer a half a shade or a full shade lighter than the rest of your face. (If you have already applied a color corrector, let it sit for a minute so it can blend into your skin). Using your ring finger, apply the concealer and blend with a makeup sponge or a fluffy eyeshadow brush. You can use a brightening concealer, like Clinque Airbrush Concealer, but I wouldn’t recommend using one if you are being photographed. The undereye concealer I use most often (it doesn’t flash back) is MAC Select Coverup.

6) Set your concealer with powder. I wait about 5 minutes to do this after applying the undereye concealer. I found that if you apply powder right away, it can get caked up. Letting the concealer(s) absorb for a few minutes first keeps that from happening.

7) Avoid smudgy eye makeup looks. If you are really concerned with darkness and you are not one for touchups, I would avoid wearing dark, smudgy, eye makeup looks. If there is any darkness you were not able to conceal, the darkness will be accentuated by dark shadow fallout or smudges under the eyes.

8) If your circles have a purple undertone, stay away from purple eyeshadows. If you are completely confident that your dark circles are covered, ignore this rule. But if you can still see a slight dark purple tinge, some purple eyeshadows may enhance it. This is one of those things you will have to play around with to see if it actually affects you.

9) Use an eye cream with retinol. Retinol thickens the skin which makes darkness from blood under the eyes less visible. Retinol also boosts collagen production, which is a bonus if you have fine lines around your eyes, because that diminishes them.

Like anything else in the beauty world, lessening dark circles takes some effort. But if it is something that bothers you, it might be worth it to take some of my suggestions into consideration. This is an issue that I personally have (if my eyes were any more deep set, I’d look like a demon), and I know how much better I feel having it under control.

Good luck! Please feel free to leave any questions or your own suggestions in the comments.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

A Five Minute, Five Step Face

I rarely go out in public with absolutely no makeup on.  But I also don’t always have enough time to really do my makeup (a full face for me, the way I like to do it, can take up to 45 minutes). So I often rock my “No Makeup Makeup.” It gives me a very natural, polished look, requires no brushes and takes about five minutes.

Here’s what I do:

Step 1:  Apply Too Faced Shadow Insurance eye primer to the lids, using my ring finger, to cover any discoloration and tiny little eye veins.

Step 2:  Using my hands, I apply Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer to my entire face, blending under the jawline and down onto the neck.

Step 3:  Again using my ring finger, I apply MAC Select Coverup under my eyes.  I also put some around my nose, where many of us have redness, with my index finger. If I have any blemishes, I dab it on them with my pinky finger.

Step 4:  Two coats of Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Mascara on the top lashes, just a little at the roots of the bottom lashes.

Step 5:  Sheer lip balm/gloss/Vaseline/whatever on the lips.

Finito! How easy is that?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

I Love You, Always Forever: Make Up For Ever Products Review

Every once in a while, I develop a makeup crush. The new object of my affection is the entire brand, Make Up For Ever (MUFE). I’ve been using a few of their products for a while, but I’ve gotten more lately and I’m officially in love. Here’s what I have:

5 Camouflage Cream Palette: This was my first MUFE purchase.  I bought it in No. 1 because I wanted the green color corrector. I scraped that one and the peach (Golden Beige 15) completely to the bottom of the pan.  More about those below. The skintone concealers are fabulous too–very creamy and they provide great coverage.  They also do a great job of staying on the skin.  I find that all of the camouflage concealers work best when I dab them on my hand first to let my body heat melt them down (sounds weird, but it works) then I apply with either a brush or my fingertips.

Camouflage Cream in Golden Beige 15: This is actually a peach concealer and it works wonders on dark undereye circles. Because it’s a thick product and the thin, slightly bumpy skin under the eyes really shows caked-on makeup, I apply a little moisturizer under the eyes first. Then I do the warm-the-product-on-my-hand trick, apply it to the area with a concealer brush and blend with a fluffy eyeshadow brush. The first time I ever used this on a client, the response was great. “Wow! What is this stuff? It’s amazing!” Yes, it is that good.

Camouflage Cream in Green 17: This is the product in my kit that scares people the most. It’s not tinted green, or green-ish brown–it is straight up green.  Many people have said to me “You’re going to put that on my face?” (but my favorite was the actor who said “Cool! Can you do the Celtics mascot on my face?”). I always tell clients how green products cancel out redness and will be blended in and covered with foundation before they can say “shamrock.”  This product is excellent for correcting redness from rosacea, as well as the slight redness many people have around their nose and/or chin. The Camouflage Concealer in Green 17 is absolutely a kit essential for me.  I’d be lost without it.

HD Invisible Cover Foundation: Hallelujah! Whoever created this foundation deserves some kind of award.  It goes on smoothly, gives great coverage, feels like nothing, lasts all day and comes in a variety of colors.  It is a medium coverage foundation, which I like, but it might look a little strange to you at first if you’re used to a more sheer foundation or a tinted moisturizer.  Not strange in a bad way, but if you’re used to seeing your freckles or color variations on your face, you’re going to be surprised.  I have freckles and while it doesn’t completely cover them, it definitely hides them a lot more than lighter foundations. On some people, it can look the tiniest bit cakey right after you apply it, but after a couple minutes it completely settles into the skin.  I promise. If you can’t tolerate those few minutes, simply apply a moisturizer to your face first using a foundation brush, then use that same brush to apply the foundation. The moisturizer left on brush will thin out the foundation a little. Or, if you’re a I-use-my-hands-to-apply-foundation person, simply add in a tiny drop of moisturizer to the foundation. This foundation is made for high definition television, so it gives a gorgeous, flawless finish. It also photographs beautifully.

Smoky Lash Mascara: You can love different products in different ways, right? Because I love Diorshow with a passion…but I love Smoky Lash just as much. I love them both, but for different reasons. Diorshow is a great every day mascara. It gives length, volume, and a smooth, never clumpy finish.  This is my mascara of choice for any polished look. Smoky Lash is like the badass sister of Diorshow.  They’re both excellent at what they do, but their personalities are different. Smoky Lash is more intense, thicker, and more obvious than Diorshow.  I don’t want to say it’s clumpy, but it’s got a little texture to it.  I especially love it for layering on top of my Diorshow and for my bottom lashes.  I like thick, not long, bottom lashes, and this does the trick.  I’m pretty obsessed with this one.

Aqua Eyes Eyeliners: I want to give the disclaimer that I tried these liners when they first came out and they may have been re-formulated since then.  First, the good. I love the color payoff of these pencil liners. My favorite is the Turquoise 7L, which shows up on the skin as vibrant as it looks. These pencil liners are waterproof and they certainly do stay on. I don’t think they show up or stay on the waterline very well, but I’ve heard other people say they are great on the waterline, which is why I think they may have been re-formulated. Because of that, and the fact that I love MUFE, I am going to buy some new ones and  give them another try.

I’m trying out a few other MUFE products right now, so more reviews are on the way. I’m looking forward to trying more of their products.  They’re an awesome brand, and their high quality products are good people, man.

You can find MUFE products at Sephora, and they have stores in LA, New York and Dallas.  If anyone else knows of another place, please let me know.

Have a beautiful day 🙂