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 🙂



What I Bring To The Table

Most people have a makeup bag for their personal use, but I have a makeup table. If you’re going to do something, do it big, right? I have a coffee table in my bedroom, and it is covered with the products I use most often. I have seen a lot of “What I Have In My Makeup Bag” videos, so I thought I’d do my version via this blog.

I’m going to share with you the products I have been using lately. Some are old favorites, others are new crushes. I am always trying new things, and have a box filled with samples on the table, because I like to switch things up. I refuse to get stuck in a beauty rut–I think that is the kiss of death for a makeup artist.

I have currently have three moisturizers that I’ve been using. Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti Sun Damage Daily Moisture Lotion was my summer moisturizer. It has an SPF 28 and I believe is targeted to oily skin (which my combination skin definitely is in the summer), so it worked well for me. I recently started using a heavier moisturizer because my skin will become dry as the colder weather comes in. It’s a mini-jar of Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital. It feels nice on my skin and does a good job moisturizing, but I don’t love the perfume-y scent. And my go-to moisturizer has been CVS Oil Free Moisturizer in SPF 15. It’s not fancy, but it’s a good basic.

I have done several eye primer tests over the years, and Too Faced Shadow Insurance is still the best, in my opinion. So I always have one of those on the table.

My current face primer is the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. Love it. I don’t use it every day, but if I am going to have my makeup on for several hours, it’s a must.

One of my essential products, for both my personal and professional kits, is the POREfessional pore minimizer by Benefit. This stuff is magic. It really mattifies the skin and gives the appearance of smaller pores. I use it on my t-zone.

I have a few foundations on the table and I usually mix them to create the shade and coverage I want. I have NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation, MAC Face & Body Foundation and Benefit Hello Flawless. I also have a Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. When I use a Face & Body, I set it with the Hello Flawless powder foundation, because I like more of a medium coverage. The Sheer Glow Foundation is on the thick side, so I like to cut it with the thinner Make Up For Ever Face & Body. If I am just going for a run or don’t have time to do a full face of makeup, I wear the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer alone, but I usually mix that with a Face and Body. (I wear something with SPF when I go for a run during the day, because the sun is out, and I’m all set with sun damage and pigmentation.)

I do my initial undereye concealer with MAC Select Coverup (with a thin layer of moisturizer underneath). It is a cream concealer that sets to a powder, but it can still look a little shiny after it dries, so I set that with my pressed powder. I find that the Select Coverup can get a little cakey if you put too many layers on, so if I need to touch up later in the day, I use Make Up For Ever Lift Concealer. It doesn’t last as long on its own, but it has good staying power when layered over the Select Coverup. If I am having a real dark circles day, I use Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener instead of a moisturizer, prior to applying my initial concealer.

To set my foundation, I use MAC Blot Powder. It’s only a visitor to the table, though–its real home is in my purse, because my t-zone usually needs a couple of touchups during the day.

To contour or bronze, I use NARS bronzer in Laguna. I currently have three powder blushes in rotation–Benefit Dandelion (a pretty soft pink), Make Up For Ever Sculpting Blush in 22 (peach) and NARS blush in Orgasm (peachy pink with shimmer).

For eyeshadow, I often reach for NARS Duo in Madrague. This duo contains a cream and a caramel color. It stays in my travel bag, since it is compact and a great go-to combination. I keep the Coastal Scents 88 Color Palette on the table, since it contains most every eyeshadow color I would want to use. The shadows don’t have the greatest staying power or pigment, but if I know I will only be wearing makeup for three or four hours, they do the job.

I have three pencil eyeliners currently on the table. MAC Kohl eyeliner in Smoulder, Topshop Kohl in Saddle and Covergirl Liquiline Blast in Blue Boom. Smoulder is my favorite inky black liner for the waterline. I also keep one in my purse, because let’s face it, waterline liner needs to be touched up. You can read my recent review of Saddle (in “In The Name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Eyeliner”), but I’ll just say I love that eyeliner for almost any liner purpose. I use Blue Boom on my waterline as an alternative to black or brown. Sometimes I want a pop of color on my eyes, but don’t want to do a full on colorful eye, so the waterline liner is perfect.

To fill in my brows, I use a matte dark brown shadow from the Coastal Scents palette.

I use two mascaras on my top lashes–Dior Diorshow and Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash. On my bottom lashes, I use Smoky Lash only.

I have three lipliners on the table–Covergirl Lip Perfection in Passion (for red lip days), MAC Lipliner in Subculture (matches my natural lip color) and a new one that I am trying, Vincent Longo Duo Lip Pencil in Lavender Lite/Grape. Lavender Lite is a subtle light purple-pink that works with one of my lip glosses (next section), and I wear the darker purple Grape as a lipstick (I color my lips in with it and top with a clear balm). I recently had some blue extensions put in my hair and the Grape lip color worked well with those.

The two lip glosses currently in rotation are Buxom Lips Lip Polish in Princess (a shimmery pink pearl, looks nice over Lavender Lite liner) and Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Baby Doll (soft pink shimmer). I always have a red lipstick on the table and right now it is MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger. I’ve got a bright pink MAC Lipstick, Girl About Town, on the table as well, although I haven’t worn it for a while. Looks like I just thought of a look for tomorrow…

If I want my makeup to really last, I spray on some Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. That stuff is phenomenal.

My face brushes are by Real Techniques, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. My eyeshadow brushes are a mix of Sonia Kashuk, CVS Essence of Beauty, and MAC. I use an angled brush from ELF for my brows. Lip brush is from Michael’s Craft Store. I use Bioderma Eye Makeup Remover, because it is so gentle on my eyes. I’ve got a pair of Ardell 117 False Lashes patiently waiting for my next night out, a Duo Eyelash Adhesive, and some small silver stars I sometimes lash glue near my eyes or on the tops of my cheekbones.

Also on the table are some hot rollers, a Global Beauty Flat Iron, Minardi Subdue Styling Cream (to calm down any frizz), Batiste Dry Shampoo, Lamaur VitaE Brushable Hold Hair Spray and a fine tooth comb so I can tease the crap out of my hair. The higher hair hair, the closer to God, right?

Of course, I do not use all of this stuff every day, but it is a good solid mix of products that give me plenty of options without having too many options. Because if I were to look at my professional makeup kit every day and decide what I wanted to do, I would never leave the house.

So, just some ideas for your own makeup bag. These are all products I like enough to use regularly, so I feel like I can vouch for them. I’m always looking for new products to join the table, so I would love to hear any recommendations you have!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Case of Shadow Insurance vs. Smudge Proof Shadow Base

Unless I’m doing a photoshoot that requires a eyeshadow changes, my first step in the makeup application process is eye primer. A quality eye primer will create a base, help eyeshadow stay on longer, prevent creasing and intensify color. Eye primer is one of my favorite “inventions” of the last ten years. I find the iPhone to be considerably less impressive.

My go-to eye primer for the last few years has been the defendant, Shadow Insurance by Too Faced (the original formula in the blue tube). It’s a creamy product, and it currently comes in one color. I’m not going to say flesh-toned, because that presumes we all have the same color skin, so I will say it is a color comparable to a light skintone. However, it blends into all skintones without a problem. You only need, as Too Faced says, a “raindrop-sized” amount of product to cover the entire lid. It comes in a squeeze tube (great for makeup artists, and for keeping your product sanitized) and has no discernible scent. It absorbs easily, doesn’t feel heavy or sticky, and does all the things a quality primer should do.

As much as I love Shadow Insurance–and this is probably why I wouldn’t make a good girlfriend–I have to see what else is out there. What if there’s something better? As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a makeup artist if I only used certain products and never tried anything new. So when I had the chance to try the Smudge Proof Shadow Base by NARS (one of my favorite beauty companies), I went for it.

The Smudge Proof Shadow Base comes in a chic black and white tube. It has a doe foot applicator (the classic lipgloss type applicator), which I don’t love. As a makeup artist, I find it much easier to squeeze product out of a tube than grab a minute amount with a doe foot applicator, swipe on my palette and repeat several times so I can use the product on clients without the unsanitary double dip. The product itself is white and I did notice that when first applied, it paled out the skin a tiny bit. It has a very faint plastic scent, but nothing I found too off-putting. It absorbs quickly and feels very lightweight and there is no stickiness factor.

Now, how do the two compare? On a few different days, I wore one primer on each eye, then did my eye makeup as usual. I put each primer on my right eye one day, my left the next, and used the same eyeshadows to be as fair as possible. And the verdict is–Shadow Insurance is the bomb. Order in the court! The shadow intensity levels were close, although there was only slightly less fading with the Shadow Insurance. What did it for me was the creasing. The Smudge Proof Shadow Base definitely didn’t do as good of a job preventing creasing. There was no creasing with the Shadow Insurance, but I can’t say the same for the Smudge Proof Shadow Base.

I love NARS, but this isn’t a product I can recommend. But I’m happy to tell you that the Shadow Insurance is cheaper ($19) than the Smudge Proof Shadow Base ($24). So I’ll pretend I’m doing some kind of public service here…

You can get Too Faced products at Sephora or Sephora.com.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

All That Glitters: Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner Review

I once had a very bad experience with glitter. A speck of it somehow got lodged in my eyeball, and I could feel it! I was on my way to the emergency room when it worked its way out. (I had previously had the same experience with a grain of sand, which I ignored for a few days until it hurt to open my eye. So I didn’t want to risk it with the glitter.) Since then, I’ve hated glitter cards, glitter clothing and glitter accessories.

However, I am strangely okay with glitter makeup–specifically glitter eyeliner. I realize this makes no sense, seeing as though my glitter ordeal had to do with a rogue piece of clothing glitter that had gotten into my eye, so why would I want to purposely put glitter near my eye? Because I love makeup! That’s why. Most decisions I make have to do with the fact that I love makeup, hip hop, or soft serve, so I can’t say that logic always plays a part.

I have pencil eyeliners and mascaras with glitter in them, but hadn’t tried a liquid glitter eyeliner for a while. While browsing Sephora.com recently, the Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner by Urban Decay caught my eye–this time in a good way. After agonizing over which shade to get, I decided on Stagedive, a bright turquoise.

For some reason, I expected the liner to be turquoise with turquoise glitter, but it is in fact a clear liner with turquoise glitter. The glitter applies somewhat unevenly, as glitter usually does, which is more obvious when the product base is clear. The applicator is a thin brush, not a felt tip applicator, but I think that’s fine since you can’t really draw a precise line with glitter anyway. To build consistent glitter-ness, I had to keep going over the spots that were lacking in glitter. I don’t think this is a big deal, since many products require multiple layers to really show up.

The next time I wore it, I applied a black gel liner first (you could do this with pencil too), let it dry, and introduced the Heavy Metal liner into the game. G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. Love love love love LOVE! It instantly brought some fun to the look and I got a lot of compliments on it. Giving the turquoise glitter something to contrast with really made a huge difference.

As far as removal, be prepared to work. With glitter makeup on any other part of the face, you can remove it with Scotch tape. But on the eyelids, I really wouldn’t recommend that. So eye makeup remover, as far as I know, is the only option. It can take a while, but no one ever said beauty was effortless, darling.

So this liner on its own is subtle, which some people may prefer. But if you like intensity, just layer it over a darker pencil or gel liner. That’s the way I like to wear it. Ke$ha would be proud.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Grape Crush: Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Ransom Review

There are lots of different purples in the makeup world.  You’ve got your lilacs, your lavenders, your eggplants, your plums, your amethysts, your royal purples and so on. My favorite purple shade is grape.  It looks great with brown eyes, which the majority of people have.  However, I usually have trouble finding good grape eyeshadows or eyeliners.

Then I met Urban Decay’s 24/7 eyeliner in Ransom.  It couldn’t be more grape colored! I love the 24/7 liners.  They’re smooth, creamy and highly pigmented.  I go through 24/7 in Zero (jet black) quicker than I go through toilet paper, and Bourbon (brown) and Gunmetal (gray) are essentials in my kit too.

Ransom is a perfect color for the brown-eyed girls out there. If you’re going to do a purple smoky eye, this liner will be your best friend.  A word of warning though–these liners are great for smoky eyes because they smudge easily, but if you’re going to wear them on their own, trace over them with an eyeshadow to set the liner.

I bought mine from Sephora as part of the Limited Edition 24/7 Eyeliner Duo deal (also comes with a good covered pencil sharpener). It would normally be $43 for two 24/7 liners, but this set gives you two for $29.  http://sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml?id=P276809&categoryId=C10461

Purple eyeliner is a good way to make brown eyes pop without doing the whole eye with bright, vibrant or intense shadow. So if you want a little change in your eye makeup look, give it a try!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Spray It, Don’t Say It: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray Review

Makeup is supposed to be temporary, but not so temporary that it’s faded completely by lunchtime. Face primers, eye primers and powders help, but for an especially long day, a setting spray is key. I just found one that I love and I really recommend it.  It’s called “All Nighter Long Lasting Makeup Setting Spray” and it’s made by Urban Decay.

All you need is 4-6 sprays of the product (to cover your whole face) after you’ve finished your makeup, and you’re set for the day.  As a test, I’ve used it on myself before workouts and it really does keep the makeup on. It doesn’t feel like anything and doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue or make your skin feel tight.  It’s oil-free, vegan, not tested on animals and contains no parabens.

The All Nighter Spray is now a must for me when I’m doing weddings or event jobs. If you have an all day event to go to, or just have a problem with makeup staying on, this is a great product for your makeup bag.

Sold at Sephora stores and Sephora.com.

Have a beautiful day 🙂