Well, Naturally

Oval Nails

“I just want to look natural.” While it sounds simple, the true Natural Look is one of the hardest to do. Why? Because it is about perfecting the skin. When my clients request the Natural Look, 9 times out of 10, they want glowy, flawless skin–but in a way that will make people think they are born with it. If you are 10 years old or a model (and trust me, not all models have perfect skin), then I take it back–this is an easy look. If not, read on!

In other looks, the focus may be on the eyes, lips, cheeks, lashes, etc., so the skin does not have to look so flawless. But for a truly natural look, the skin needs to appear clear, contoured (but not in an obvious Kim K. way), even, smooth and glowing.  It’s a tall order, but it can be done.

Your first step is to get your skin in good shape (ideally this is done consistently, not just for this look).  The better your skin is, the easier this look will be to do and the better it will look. I wouldn’t attempt this look if you are in the middle of a huge breakout. In fact, if you are currently dealing with acne, hold off on this. It will take a lot of time and product, and probably frustration. If you are currently not dealing with breakouts, starting by cleansing and exfoliating your face. And if you were out last night, make sure you finish removing that eye makeup that you were just too tired to get to…

First, apply an eye primer, like Too Faced Shadow Insurance. You will be applying eye makeup and you want it to last, so an eye primer is key.

Then, apply a moisturizer with luminizing properties. A tinted moisturizer, like Jouer Moisturzing Tint or even Jergens Natural Glow for Face mixed with a little of your regular moisturizer, will work well. Really massage the moisturizer in. This is going to rev up the circulation to the skin which will help give you some glow.

Next, apply a matte eyeshadow in a color as close to your skin as possible. This should go on your lids and into the crease if you have deepset or hooded lids. If not, keep it on just the lids.

Apply a matte shadow that is a shade or two darker than your skin to the crease of your eyes (skip if you have deepset or hooded eyes).

If you have large pores, apply a pore minimizer to those areas.

Take an angled eyeshadow brush and the same crease matte shadow and apply it as close to your eyelashes (both top and bottom) as possible. The point is to give subtle definition to your eyes, not to make it look like you have eyeliner on.

Now, take a matte eyeshadow that is a shade or two lighter than your skin and apply a small amount under your browbone. If you have deepset eyes, skip this step.

Apply face primer if you have oily skin and/or will be wearing the makeup for a while.

Apply a couple of thin coats of mascara to your top eyelashes. This is one of the few times I will say go ahead and use brown mascara if your lashes are blonde. If not, black mascara is good. Just don’t load it on. Comb through it to remove any clumps. If you are staying true to this look, it’s not about the lashes.

If you have redness, apply some green color corrector to cancel it out.

Add an off-white liner to your lower waterline. Make sure it is off-white and not pure white, because that will be too obvious. The off-white covers any red, pink, or brown tones on your waterline, making you look well rested.

Apply a sheer foundation, like MAC Face & Body or Make Up For Ever Face & Body, using your hands. After you have applied it, take a few seconds to press it into your skin with your palms. This will give you a really natural finish.

If necessary, fill in your eyebrows with a brow powder. If they are full will no sparseness, you can skip this step and just give them a brush through.

Apply concealer to under the eyes and any areas you may need it.

Add a cream blush to your cheeks, using fingers. I like a peachy pink for light to medium skintones, and something slightly orange for darker skin. No matter what you choose, it should be muted. Nothing too bright or shimmery. Ideally you want it to mimic what you look like when you are naturally flushed. MAC, Make Up For Ever and Sonia Kashuk make great cream blushes.

Use a cream highlighter sparingly on the tops of cheekbones. You don’t want something super shimmery, but a tiny bit of shimmer is okay. If your collarbone is showing, add some highlighter there too. Blend well.

Apply a thin layer of loose powder to set your face makeup and undereye concealer. Unless you are oily all over, you can apply the powder just on the t-zone and undereye area if you prefer.

Apply a small amount of mascara to lower lashes, concentrating it at the lash roots. You don’t want much here. Again, it’s just about defining the eyes.

Use a contour brush to lightly shape your face with contour powder (this will vary depending on your face shape). Make Up For Ever Sculpting kits are great for this. If you prefer a cream contour, do this step after highlighter.

If your skin is oily or you prefer a bit more of a flushed cheek, apply some powder blush in the same shade as the cream blush you already have on.

Line and fill in your lips with a liner that is the same color as your lips. Pat in the liner with your finger.

Top with a lip balm. Don’t use a gloss if you want to stay true to this look. At their best, lips are smooth and even colored, but nobody’s lips are naturally glossy.

Now, look at yourself. THAT is natural makeup. This can be a beautiful look, but if you are someone who is used to wearing a lot of makeup, you may feel naked. And I wouldn’t recommend this for a special event or night out. It can be gorgeous in photoshoots and during the day, but it might look a little off if you are wearing a cocktail dress or going to a holiday party.

But, at the same time, if this is your look, and you love it, rock it. Rock it with pride. I’m all for wearing what makes you feel good, and if the Natural Look does it, then by all means, go for it! I just wanted to give the disclaimer because I think many people think the Natural Look is Jessica Alba on the Cover of Allure. It won’t turn you into her anymore than wearing heels will make me 5’6″ for real. I hope this blog post will help you if you do want to try this look. And if you like the look after that, then even better!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

February Makeup Giveaway

I’ve talked about this Sonia Kashuk eyeshadow quad before because I love it, and now I want to give one away. It’s called “Born to Be Wild” and as far as I can tell, they don’t make it any more. But you can get your’s here!

I think this quad is perfect for anyone who wants to amp up their eye makeup, but isn’t ready to go super bold. The four colors are:

1) Grape shot through with blue: Beautiful on green eyes
2) A pink/gold/rust (looks different in different lights): Gorgeous on blue peepers
3) Denim blue: Amazing on brown and gray eyes
4) A frosty blue (I call it “mermaid blue”): So pretty on brown-eyed girls

You can wear the colors separately, two or three at a time, or all together in lots of different combinations. I’ll be trying one of the combos with my quad today…

To win, send an email with your full name and email address to AllisonBarbera@AllisonBarbera.com. Please put “February Giveaway” in the subject line. Because it’s a quad, the magic number is four. The fourth person to contact me will be the winner. Good luck!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Thank God For My Cousins: Sonia Kashuk Brushes & Products Review

Sonia Kashuk, Target
A line worth checking out.

There are a lot of makeup lines out there and new products are constantly released.  I would very much like to try them all.  If I wanted to do just that all day (and I do!) I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything else. So until I am the position to do nothing but try new products all day–at which point I probably will have died and gone to heaven–I rely on recommendations from friends, family, clients, fellow bloggers, other makeup artists, and beauty publications.

Whenever I do a woman’s makeup, I ask her what she normally uses.  I don’t do this to tear apart, judge, or to suggest other products.  Rather, I ask about her favorites so I can try them. If someone really raves about an eyeliner, or I hear a bunch of people praise a certain bronzer, you can be damn sure I’m going to get it.

I first heard of the Sonia Kashuk line about five years ago. My cousin, Brooke, got me a Sonia brush kit for my birthday. Brooke had tried a Sonia brush before and liked it and thought I would too. She was right, as Virogs often are. The brushes came in a white travel case and to this day, the blush brush that came in that kit is my favorite. It’s super soft, distributes color evenly and doesn’t shed.  The Sonia brushes, if they are taken care of properly, last for a while.

My cousin Maria lives in New York City, and she is the one who got me into the Sonia products.  She finds these amazing products at Space.NK http://www.spacenk.com/home.do and sends them to me.  How great is she?!?!

Below is a list and review of the Sonia products I currently have:

Beautifying Blush in Lilly:  This is one of the most used powder blushes in my kit.  It’s a warm pinky peach that looks amazing on medium and olive skin tones. As long as there is a primer underneath, it lasts for a while. It’s well pigmented, but not to the point where it’s too much.  It’s very buildable, so you can choose how intense you want the color to be.

Beautifying Blush in Flamingo: This powder blush is a cool pink shade that really brings a pop of color to the cheeks. I reach for it often when I am doing a purple eye makeup look, as it balances out the look and doesn’t clash with the purples.  See “Lilly” description for pigment and length of wear.

Creme Blush in Rosey: I think the shade name is a little deceiving.  I’d call it “Peachy”, or maybe “Peachy-Rosey”, but who am I to judge? This blush is easy to blend (it doesn’t grab onto the skin then dry and not budge, like some cream blushes) and it gives a gorgeous flush to the cheeks. I’ve found this shade to be flattering on several skintones.  Like many cream blushes, it can fade quicker than powders, but I’ve found that layering it really helps.

Lip Palette in Shimmering Sorbet: This lip palette includes five colors–shimmery apricot, light toffee brown, mid-tone pink, coral and berry. The apricot and pink are on the sheer side and the brown, coral, and berry are more pigmented. This palette has a great color selection and the formulas do not feel sticky. They do tend to dry out my lips a little, but that might just be me. As far as length of wear, they fall somewhere in the middle–they don’t come right off, but they’re  not especially long-lasting either.

Eye Shadow Quad in Smoke in Your Eyes: This is my most used eye shadow quad. It contains a dark gray, a cream, a mid-tone gray and a chocolate brown. The brown is absolutely gorgeous and flattering on many eye color/skintone combos. The two grays are great for a smoky effect. The cream works well as base or a highlight.  The shadows are well pigmented and as long as you use a primer underneath (which I do with all shadows, no exceptions) they last all day.

Eye Shadow Quad in Born to Be Wild: This quad contains four beautiful colors–a vibrant purple, a gold rose, a dark blue and a light, frosty blue.  The purple is perfect for brown eyes, and I love the gold rose on blue eyes.  If you want to wear all four colors at the same time, one combination I like (especially for blue-eyed girls) is the gold rose on the lid, dark blue at upper lashline, light blue at lower lashline, and purple at outer third of lower lashline.  The pigment and length of wear is the same as the Smoke In Your Eyes quad.

Eye Shadow Duo in Stormy Night: The two shadows, a silver gray and green gray, are shimmery and high impact. The colors look great when worn together or alone. If you’re nervous to use metallics, try lining close to your lashline with a gray or black pencil liner first, then trace over the liner with an angled brush dipped in one of the shadows. Pigment and length of wear is the same as eye quads.

Enhance Eye Shadow in Fleshy: The name grosses me out a little, but the shadow is great.  This is a must have for those with light to medium light skin. It’s close to the color of those shades of skin, so it’s great as a base.  And if you are a very natural one shadow girl who just wants the lids to look more even, this is a good choice for you.  Pigment and length of wear is the same as the other shadows.

Sonia Kashuk is a solid makeup line, and I’ve liked or loved every product I’ve tried. The blushes and the eyeshadow quads are amazing, and everything is relatively inexpensive. The line is available at Target and SpaceNK.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Summer Makeup Look I’m Loving Right Now

I love summer and I love makeup so naturally, I love summer makeup. I’ve found myself doing slight variations of this same look lately and I think it’s a look that works on most people. So of course I’m going to share it with you!


* Perfekt Skin Perfection Gel blended down onto neck and chest (use whichever tinted moisturizer you prefer)

* MAC Pro Longwear Concealer for undereye circles, around the nose and blemishes

* Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 00 Translucent all over, but concentrated mostly on the T-zone

* Benefit Hoola (a matte bronzer) on and under cheekbones, at hairline, and a tiny bit on the chin

* Sonia Kashuk Beautifying Blush in Flamingo (a perfect bright-but-not-too-bright true pink cream blush that gives some color to the face)


* Too Faced Shadow Insurance (eye primer)

* Any goldish brown eyeshadow, pressed onto lid and blended slightly into crease

* Dior Diorshow mascara or Makeup Forever Smokey Eyes mascara (new, just got it yesterday–review to follow)

* At night, I add a black shadow or smudged pencil liner (I like Urban Decay’s 24/7 liner in Zero for this) to upper lashline. I also add some of the brown shadow on the lower lashline, and MAC Smoulder kohl eye pencil in the waterline


* A semi-shimmery beige or light pink lip gloss. I’ve been using some cheapie NYC ones, but I find the pink too frosty, so I cut it with Vaseline or clear gloss.

Something Special

* I have some small, silver stars from Michael’s that I apply using lash glue. I put a few at the corner of one eye or at the top of the cheekbone.

Nothing about this look has to be too precise. It’s just an easy summer look that can be adjusted for day or night. It shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy other awesome summer things, like soft serve and Mudslides.

Have a beautiful day 🙂