Celebrity Makeup Looks: A How To Guide

It’s helpful when a client shows pictures of celebrity or model makeup they want for their wedding or an event. The pictures are sometimes all over the board in terms of similarities, but with a proper breakdown, I can always pinpoint what they have in common (i.e. glowy skin, black winged liner, berry stained lips, etc.) In this way, inspiration pictures are great because a client may not know how to explain what they want in makeupese but I can figure it out from the pictures and a thorough consult.

The problem comes in if the client expects me to make them look exactly like the celebrity/model in the picture. Sometimes the client has a completely different skintone, eye color, eye shape, bone structure and/or hair color, so even the exact same makeup used on that celebrity/model is not going to look the same on the client. And beyond that, that celebrity/model has access to or income for things the average person does not. Let me say that again–celebrities/models have access to or income for things the average person does not. It’s unfair and pretty ridiculous to compare yourself to someone when you are not starting out on a level playing field.

Still convinced you can look like Gigi Hadid? Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I’ll tell you how you can get there.

  1. The Basics. You have to do all of these things. https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/          Consistently. These are do-able, but what follows probably isn’t for most people. You’ve been warned.
  2. Open Up Your Wallet. I don’t believe most celebrities are totally honest about their beauty regimens, but sometimes you get a peek into what they do. I recently read an article about a 16 part face and body anti-aging skincare treatment that Jennifer Aniston does. This is some of what it includes:
    • Pre-treatment skin evaluation
    • 45 minutes wrapped in a full-body heating pad to sweat out impurities
    • Cleansing and facial massage
    • Hydrotherapy tub treatment
    • Body massage
    • Wrinkle-reducing LED therapy
    • Skin-firming collagen mask
    • Body contouring treatment to smooth cellulite

    Each session takes about three hours, costs $900 and should be done once a week. That’s $3,600 a month.

    So when you see celebrity makeup/model you like in a picture, on TV or in a film, remember those many of those people have access to treatments like that as well as the Botox, fillers and cosmetic surgery they don’t talk about.

  3. Hire a Team. If you see an editorial photo, be it in an article or ad, know that the woman had her makeup done by a pro artist who might have taken 2-3 hours to do it–which is more time than most people want to budget for their wedding or event makeup. If she is an actress or model, she may have started out with genetically good skin (many models do) and/or have access to stupidly expensive beauty treatments like mentioned above. A makeup artist is there for constant touchups during the shoot. The lighting and film is used to further flatter the actress/model. Then, the picture is passed on to someone who retouches it. They might enlarge eyes, whiten teeth, make lips look fuller, make cheekbones more pronounced, make pores disappear, straighten a nose, etc. What many people think is makeup is actually Photoshop. The cost for this team will make your $3,600 monthly skin treatment budget look paltry.
  4. Maybe It’s Maybelline? Doubtful. The makeup that is used on celebrities and in advertisements is usually high end. If you want to look like Jennifer Lawrence did at the Oscars you are not going to get there with all CoverGirl makeup. I find that a lot of people want a celebrity makeup look but they want it on a budget. Here’s a secret–they often don’t use the makeup from that line in the ads that you see for drugstore makeup. And it gets edited like crazy anyway. I have a few drugstore products I like but overall, the color payoff, longevity, texture and packaging is not as good as higher end products.

So when you see celebrity makeup you like in a picture, on TV or in a film, remember they have access to high end skincare treatments, lighting (don’t underestimate the power of this one), frequent touchups from makeup artists and some serious retouching if it’s in print. Even if you are consistent with your own skincare routine, you can’t compare yourself to the Beyonces and Scarlett Johanssons of the world if you aren’t doing what they do. I’m not suggesting that you do, I’m just saying it’s an unfair comparison.

I understand wanting to have the clear skin or full eyelashes that you see on a celebrity/model, but remember that it took effort and money for them to look like that. If you can’t put in the same effort and money, then you don’t compare yourself. I know I am being repetitive, but that’s because I don’t think most people really understand these huge differences.

And can we as a society stop trying to look like certain celebrities or models? How about we applaud true talent and sure, appreciate beauty, but not try to look exactly like them. I think it’s much more interesting (and genuine) when someone has their own look and doesn’t follow trends. I say take care of your skin, play with makeup until you find what looks good on you and then be done with it. Be happy that you can walk outside with no makeup on and not end up on the cover of a magazine with the headline “Is She Dying Today? Sure Looks Like It*.”

Have a beautiful day 🙂

*That would be me on less than 6 hours of sleep or the morning after I’ve had three drinks. 



She’s So Basic

Which one of these scenarios do you think is realistic?

  1. Your college roommate loses 20 pounds and 8 inches off her waist in one week by working out and eliminating gluten.
  2. A former coworker opens a new business on a Monday and is millionaire by Friday.
  3. Your funny neighbor does three open mic nights and has an HBO comedy special by month’s end.
  4. Your sister, who sporadically uses moisturizer and sometimes washes her face, takes 5 minutes to apply her makeup and has the dewy look Jennifer Lawrence had at the Oscars.

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will admit that it takes a lot of time, discipline and effort. Entrepreneurs understand that you are lucky to turn a profit after a year in business, never mind a week. And if you’ve ever known an aspiring comedian or seen interviews with someone who made it big, you realize it’s often a decade before they have a solid career. I think most people would agree there are no overnight successes in these areas.

But when it comes to beauty, many people expect results quickly and with little effort. In a world of celebrities who don’t disclose their actually beauty routines and Instagrammers who use filters and editing to achieve perfection, it’s not surprising that many people think it doesn’t take much to look flawless.

There is going to be a follow up to this post to help you understand what goes into red carpet makeup, the photos you see in magazines and all kinds of advertisements. But for now, I want to talk about what non-celebrities can do to get good skin.

If you want your makeup to look great, you have to start with The Basics. Amazing in-person makeup always starts with good skin. There is no way around this. A picture, as we all know, can be edited into perfection but I think most of the readers of this blog want skin and makeup that looks good during actual human interactions.

Unless you are someone who is genetically blessed with soft, even-toned skin and no undereye issues (aka the unicorns of the beauty world) you are going to have to put some effort in. I want you to re-read that sentence and let it sink in. If you are not willing to put some time and effort into your skincare routine, this is not the post for you. But before you leave, please know that your makeup will never look its best if you don’t take care of your skin. Okay, bye!

For those of you who know it takes work to get results in life, this is for you. It doesn’t even take that much time out of your day, so you can drop that excuse. Here is the bare minimum of what you need to do to keep your skin in good shape.

  1. Cleanse Your Sins. You absolutely have to remove your makeup and cleanse your skin every night. Sleeping in makeup–or even just the dirt, oil and other junk that makes its way onto your face every day–is a great way to cause breakouts. And sleeping with eye makeup on can contribute to undereye puffiness and cause eye infections. If you are not using an oil cleanser, I recommend using an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, first. Then use your cleanser. In my opinion, nothing breaks down makeup like oil. You can also save a step and do what I do–use an oil cleanser. My favorite is NUDE Perfect Cleanse Nourishing Cleansing Oil. Unless you have very oily skin, cleansing once a day before you go to bed is enough. Total Time Needed: 5 minutes.
  2. Be A Softie. Your skin needs moisture. Dry skin peeps often inherently understand this, but if your skin is oily or normal, that doesn’t mean you can skip this step. When oily skin is stripped of its oils (which can happen during cleansing, especially if you are using an oil-free cleanser), that sends a message to the skin to produce more oil, thus making the skin even more shiny. If you have oily skin, use an oil-free moisturizer like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with SPF 35 to make sure that you nourish that epidermis. That’s a great moisturizer for combination skin as well. Dry skin benefits from a thicker formula like Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre, and normal skin does well with a moisturizer like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. In terms of makeup, a dewy look will never work on un-moisturized skin, nor will a matte look, as the foundation will cling to dry patches and not apply evenly. Apply moisturizer once a day and you can check it off your To Do list. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds. 
  3. Protect Ya Neck.  And your face. If your moisturizer does not contain SPF, you must must must apply it separately. Skin cancer is real–take it seriously. And in terms of beauty, nothing ages a face faster than sun exposure. UVA and UVB rays break down collagen, which is what keeps skin smooth and firm. When collagen diminishes, skin sags and fine lines and wrinkles form. The sun also causes hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation (that’s light spots and dark spots). Uneven skintone is just as aging as fine lines, so keep that in mind while you’re people watching at the beach. I live in an area of the country where we have seasons, so the sun is merely an acquaintance during the winter. Even so, I use a moisturizer with at least an SPF 15 to guard my skin during the three hours of daily sunlight we get in January. Come springtime (oh, joyous springtime) I bump it up to an SPF 35. In the summer, I sometimes use a separate sunscreen with SPF 30 (SPF 50 if I’m going to the beach). I currently use Aveeno Protect + Hydrate which absorbs nicely and does not cause me to breakout. Total Time Needed: 30 seconds. 
  4. Slough It Off. Skin cells die. It’s a fact of life. But unless you remove them from your skin, they hang around like that last party guest who just doesn’t get it. And when they hang around, they absorb your moisturizer, which is meant for your living skin cells (so rude!). They also grab onto makeup, causing it to be uneven. Dead skin cells give an overall dull look to your skin, which does you no favors whether you are barefaced or wearing makeup. Luckily, there is a super easy solution–exfoliation. This really deserves its own post, so I’ll put that on the list. Until then, please get yourself an exfoliant and use it twice a week. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate is bomb, as is Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant (that one is a mask but does the same thing). Disclaimer: If you use prescription retinol or any other product that is contraindicated with exfoliation, skip this step. Retinol exfoliates on its own so you’re not messing anything up by omitting this. Total Time Needed: Anywhere from 3-15 minutes, depending on the type of exfoliant you use. An enzyme exfoliant usually needs to sit on the skin for a bit to work, but the only active work you have to do is apply it and rinse it off.
  5. Oil Based. Unless you have truly acneic skin, you will benefit from using a face oil. The exact oil you use is going to depend on your skin type and needs, but I believe that like soulmates, there is one out there for everyone.* Check out this post for more info on face oils: https://allisonbarberamakeup.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/how-about-an-oil-change/   Total Time Needed: 1 minute.
  6. Treat Yo Self. I’m going to heavily generalize here and call everything that is not mentioned above a skin treatment. The treatments you use are to address your individual skin concerns. That could be rosacea, fine lines, dull skin, pigmentation, etc. I suggest finding a product that addresses that concern and use it consistently. Vitamin C is a great choice for someone who doesn’t have a specific concern but wants their skin to look its best. Total Time Needed: Varies by treatment. 
  7. Cut the Crap. Even if you do all of the things I mentioned, your skin will never look its best if you smoke, regularly overindulge in adult beverages, skimp on sleep or eat unhealthy foods. You may not want to hear that, but I speak the truth. Total Time Needed: N/A. This isn’t so much a time thing as an effort and lifestyle thing. 
  8. Pay Attention. Often times, the things not working as they should inside your body will show up on your skin. The skin is an organ that can outwardly show there is a problem on the inside. A breakout, for example, can indicate a hormonal issue or a food allergy. So if you notice changes, get your ass to a doctor. Skincare can address what I consider surface-level issues (i.e. dryness, dullness, some types of breakouts) but a systemic issue can not be resolved with salicylic acid or a good moisturizer. Total Time Needed: N/A. This is my way of sneaking in some information I wanted to relay.

If you do not fully remove your makeup and cleanse your face every night and you never use moisturizer with SPF (or moisturizer and a separate SPF), you should really lower your expectations for how your skin and therefore makeup will look. Consistently doing all of the steps I recommend doesn’t guarantee your skin will be in great shape, but it will give you a solid base. As you can see, none of these things take a huge amount of time but they do make an impact. Very few good things in life come with no effort and no time spent, and your skin is no different. (That one should be in fortune cookie.) But you can definitely do it. I have faith in you!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

*Not sure I actually believe that. My personal jury is still out on soulmates, but I stand behind that theory for face oils.

The Ten Skin Commandments

Ten Crack Commandments
The commandments template I use.

One of my favorite Biggie songs is “Ten Crack Commandments.” I don’t personally have any experience in that area, although I feel like I do, thanks to Frank White. But there is an area I think I am qualified to create commandments for. (Actually, there are two areas– but I’m afraid Orange Leaf will blacklist me if I publicize my Ten Soft Serve Commandments.)

So let’s get this thing started. It’s time for a beauty pop quiz. Are you ready?

Skincare: Good makeup as

a) Telescopes: Banking

b) Spam: Cupcakes

c) Water: Gardening

d) Logic: A Real Housewife cast member

If you guessed “C,”–always guess “C,” you must know that–you are correct! Skincare is an essential part of good makeup. You can use all the high quality makeup products on the market, but if you don’t take care of your skin, your makeup can only look so good.

(Extra credit to anyone who can find all of my hip hop references in this post. There are several of them, so if something sounds a little off to you or you don’t get it, study up on your 90s and early 2000s hip hop.)

As someone who often gets complimented on their skin (I’m talking about when I have no face makeup on), I feel I can drop some knowledge here. In honor of The Notorious B.I.G, below are my Ten Skin Commandments.

1) Find a cleanser that works for your skin type and use it every night. If you think you can get away with always using makeup remover wipes, or you (gasp!) regularly go to bed with makeup on, you’re dead wrong. Don’t be a Lazy Lucy. It takes under five minutes to wash your face–you can find the time. Oh, you got no time for face cleansing? But you just beat a level on Candy Crush? Busted.

2) Use an oil-based makeup remover followed by a cleanser, or use an oil-based cleanser. Especially if you wear face makeup, I really think you need an oil-based makeup remover or oil-based cleanser to fully remove your makeup. No, oil-based products won’t automatically make you break out or cause your face to go from normal to oil slick. I have oily skin and I use an oil-based cleanser every night, and my skin has actually gotten less oily since I started using it. But if you are hesitant to do that, at least use an oil-based makeup remover before your normal cleanser. Good skin is clear, right? And can we agree that sleeping in your makeup or not fully removing it causes breakouts? Then please please please take this oil-based makeup remover/cleanser idea into consideration. My favorite oil-based makeup remover is Dermalogica Precleanse, and my absolute favorite cleanser for all skin types is Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil.

*Note* I do not recommend using oil-based  makeup removers or cleansers to remove eye makeup. Your best bet there is a gentle makeup remover, like Bioderma Sensibio H20.

3) Exfoliate exfoliate exfoliate. Do it three times per week and your skin will be a better person for it. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, making skin feel softer and look brighter. If you have oily skin, it will help remove some of the surface oils. Dry patches? Sloughs them right off. Dull skin? It’s going to help give you that glow you crave. I recommend ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment by Kate Somerville and Gentle Cream Exfoliant by Dermalogica.

4) Rule number four, I know you heard this before: exercise regularly. It gets the circulation going, which immediately makes your skin look more alive. If you are the type who gets very flushed after a workout, you may disagree with me, but Coolio down first, then re-evaluate. When I miss a bunch of workouts in a row, my skin looks blah. As soon as I get back to it–I’m talking the first workout back–I can see an obvious difference.

5) Use an SPF moisturizer every day. It’s common knowledge that the sun causes signs of aging (wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone) to accelerate, so you’ve got to be shithouse crazy (or 730, if you prefer) to ignore every knowledgeable makeup artist, esthetician and dermatologist out there who says to wear sunscreen on the daily. (Let’s not forget about the very real risk of skin cancer, too.)

6) Don’t just slap on your moisturizer. Take a few extra seconds to really massage the product in and you will see instant results. When I was in Esthetics school, we spent what felt like 1 million hours on facial massage techniques. There really is something to be said for massage and how it increases the circulation. To massage your moisturizer in, use the pads of your four fingers (stay back, Thumbkin) and make small circles around your face. It really works!

7) Get glow, get glow. I use Jergens Natural Glow for Face year-round. In the summer, it gives my skin enough color for people to believe that I live in a beach town (I use the body one during the warm weather months too). In the winter, when I can turn translucent if not careful, it gives me a slightly sun-kissed look so I don’t resemble, as my cousin Jack would say, “one of them day-time vampires.” It comes in formulations for fair to medium and medium to tan skin tones. I don’t want to call it shimmer, because that may make you think of a disco ball or a stripper, depending on your frame of reference. So I’ll just say it contains something that gives glow and radiance to the skin. It’s subtle, but it makes a difference. I feel like I look healthy when I’ve been using this for a few days. Not like a day-time vampire at all, whatever the hell that means…

8) Don’t eat bad shit. For me, bad shit is the stuff that my stomach is sensitive to. I started eating clean a few years ago for health reasons and my skin has had remarkably few breakouts since. SO MANY cases of chronic acne are actually due to food allergies/sensitivities. I’m no doctor, so do what you need to do figure it out. But as someone with an extremely sensitive system, I do suggest trying to listen to your body. If your body does not like something you are eating, it’s going to tell you. It might be in the form of stomach irritation, migraines, eczema, or breakouts, but it will find some way to give you the message. So listen up, it’s got a story to tell.

9) Number 9 shoulda been number 1 to me: don’t skimp on your beauty sleep. There is a huge difference in my skin when I get enough sleep, and I know I’m not the only one effected by sleepless nights. When I walk into a room to do wedding makeup, I can immediately tell if the bride slept like a baby or tossed and turned between nightmares of table assignments gone wrong. Yes, you can see tiredness on many people when you look at their eyes (dark circles or puffiness), but I’m referring to the skin. If you are rested, your skin looks bright and smooth. If you are tired, it looks dull and uneven. I personally notice it on myself after a nap. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up from a nap, looked in the mirror and thought “What amazing product did I use today?” 9 out of 10 times, I realize I don’t have any face makeup on. I know cell turnover and repair happens during a full night’s sleep, but I swear even a 30 minute nap does something magical to my skin. I am convinced that lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the skin. Sorry, new moms, please don’t hate me for this one.

10) When your skin needs an extra boost, try one of these miracle products. (These work considerably better if you’re following the other commandments.) The Radiant Serum by La Mer hydrates and adds radiance to the skin. It’s pricey, but I’m not in charge of your budget. Beauty Flash Balm by Clarins gives a temporary brightening and tightening effect (no lie, you can feel it happening) and creates a smooth base that allows foundation to apply beautifully. If you’re tired because, say, you have been going out like a 21 year old recently (guilty), meet your new best friend. It’s great for mature skin–I use this on most of the mothers and grandmothers of the bride who I work with–and it can be used as a mask as well. I wouldn’t use any of these miracle workers every day because I do think the skin gets used to them, but when your dermis needs a pick me up, they are there to help.

I could add some other commandments, like “Thou Shalt Not Pick at Blemishes,” and “Stress Less” (or “Just Break Up With Him Already”), but I’m sticking to the tried and true TEN Commandments format. It seems like a lot when it’s all written out like this, but I promise you it is very do-able. And I’m a big believer in the 80% rule. If you follow a good skincare regimen 80% of the time, your skin will probably look pretty fantastic. Supplement as needed with specific products to target any problem areas (i.e. rosacea, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne scarring, etc.) but I think these commandments will give you a really good base to start off with.

Gotta go, gotta go, more blogs to write up.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

An Anti-Aging Helper: Dr. Brandt Collagen Booster Review

Dr. Brandt collagen booster
Get a boost.

I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  It’s not because I don’t love you,  it’s just that I’ve been busy.  Shit, do I sound like your workaholic ex right now?

Skincare is important for a few reasons and I intend write a post about skincare tips, my routine and things I learned in Esthetics school. But until then, I’m going to give you this review of a product I tried recently.

It’s called Collagen Booster and it’s a serum made by Dr. Brandt. I have used the Dr. Brandt Pores No More pore minimizer before and it really makes pores look smaller. So I was confident that this serum would do its job.

I’m in my 20s and don’t really have a problem with collagen loss (which is related to decrease of skin elasticity and formation of fine lines and wrinkles) yet, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it.  I used the serum on the left side of my face only for three weeks to see how it would work. After that time, that side of my face looked slightly brighter and my skin was considerably softer. It didn’t make me break out, nor did it cause any irritation.

As far as serums go, the Collagen Booster is on the thin-medium side. Some serums are so thin and liquid-y that they seem watered down. But this one has a good consistency, is not sticky and it absorbs quickly.  The only thing I don’t like is that it contains parabens (more on that in another post).

Because the collagen in my body is not visibly depleting yet, I can’t say for sure how well this works for that issue.  But Dr. Brandt is an excellent skincare line and I have a feeling it probably does help with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And, this product claims to help with the strengthening of collagen fibers, as well as some other work on the intercellular level.  A lot of skincare is at that level, which can’t be seen by the naked eye. So appearance-wise, it is just taking preventative measures. But once you see the fine lines, wrinkles, or damage, it’s past the point where you can make much difference anyway (at least with non-prescription products).

Sorry, tangent.  Bad habit of mine.

The Dr. Brandt line is available at Sephora, Dermstore.com, and probably a bunch of other places, but I don’t have the time to research them right now. I’m going to ride out this bad blogger thing for a little while more.

Peep the details:


Have a beautiful day 🙂