My Beauty Philosophy: Part 2

Allison Barbera makeup

I love putting makeup on my face. Always have, and I suspect I always will. It accessorizes my outfits, allows me to express my mood and has the power to turn my outlook around. You’ve read Part 1 (unless you’re the kind of non-conformist who starts in the middle of a series and works backwards), My Beauty Philosophy as it relates to others, so here’s your chance to read about my personal beauty philosophy. In other words, it’s your lucky day.

I think each of us has a multitude of makeup looks that we can technically pull off (meaning the makeup is applied in a flattering way with colors and textures that work with our skin type and overall coloring). But we all have our preferences within those looks, and this post is about mine.

My Big Three. All of my looks fall under one of three categories–Work Makeup, Minimal Makeup or Cocktail Makeup. Do I always stick to these guidelines with no exceptions? Hell no. But since I made the rules myself, and I only hold myself to them, they don’t feel restricting.

Since my career encompasses different types of jobs as well as meetings, Work Makeup has subcategories. They are: Corporate or Film Job Makeup (conservative–no bright colors or smokey eyes), Wedding Job Makeup (full on, long-lasting makeup with a pop of color on the lips or at the lower lashline), Photoshoot Job Makeup (can be more creative, depending on the photographer and the client) and Meetings Makeup (like Corporate/Film, but often with a stronger eye or red lip).

Minimal Makeup is what you will find me wearing on the days when I don’t have any clients or meetings, but am working from home and will leave the house at some point in the day (probably at 5:00pm, when I’m starving and craving a burger with goat cheese, no bun). Minimal Makeup is undereye concealer, powder to set that and mascara. This is the amount of makeup I need to not scare myself when I walk by a mirror. Seeing my dark circles immediately makes me feel tired, and seeing my bare lashes just makes me sad. My Minimal Makeup is like coffee for my soul–it perks me up and gives me the energy to answer emails, phone calls and do the tasks that are essential for running my beauty empire. It also only takes a couple of minutes, which is perfect because I need all the time I can get when I’ve got my Business Owner and Manager hat on.

Cocktail Makeup is my term for the makeup I apply before any type of social engagement. A summer afternoon out with a friend, a birthday party, Happy Hour–they all get the Cocktail Makeup treatment. I call it that because unless I have clients or work related appointments after my social plans, I have a cocktail while doing my makeup. One of my greatest pleasures in life is listening to Hip Hop BBQ on Pandora while sipping a vodka-and-something drink and creating a killer makeup look. This ritual started in college (the soundtrack was provided by Napster then) and like the student loans I also acquired during college, has stuck around since. For me, sometimes the best part of doing something social is the getting ready process. When I have the chance, I love to take 45 minutes to do my makeup. Like really do it. The exact look changes depending on the event, my mood and my outfit, but there are no restrictions.

Italian to the Core. I don’t always have the time to do a full makeup on myself, but when I do (and this is really only for Cocktail Makeup), I like to go hard. I’m not afraid of wearing makeup and I’m not afraid of people knowing I’m wearing makeup. Sure, a natural look may work great on other people, but I like dark eyeliner. I like a shit ton of mascara. I like foundation…and blush…and bronzer or a light contour. I’ve been to Italy twice and I noticed that the women in Florence, Rome and Milan are like me. They don’t try to pretend their blush is just flushed cheeks and their eyelashes are naturally that long and thick. These women are done up–hair, makeup, nails–and driving motorini in tight pencil skirts and heels. THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. We are not afraid to look like we spent time doing our makeup, because we did. I find that to be much more honest than the “effortless” (another post coming about that one) thing that some people do. Why spend an hour applying your makeup to look like you didn’t spend time applying your makeup? I don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. Now pass me my kohl liner and a red lipstick, please. Grazie.

Mood Makeup. I use makeup as a tool to help me get into the mood for whatever I am doing. Giving a presentation about my business? My makeup is going to be polished and full on, because that helps me feel more confident and ready. Freezing cold and hating New England in February? That’s when I do bright or beachy makeup to lift my spirits and trick my brain into thinking summer is not far away. Going out on the prowl with one of my single girl friends? Now, I’m quite sure this is something I have never done. But if it was–and this is purely hypothetical–there would be some kind of smouldering eye makeup and bronzed-but-not-overdone face going on. My point is, makeup helps me get into the role of whatever part of my personality I am bringing out that day. (There’s a reason actors use hair, makeup and wardrobe to “get into character.”) Whether it’s Girlboss, Warm Weather Optimistic or Heartbreaker, there is a makeup look I can do that shows on the outside what I’m feeling like inside. This is one of those magical things about makeup and a big reason why I love it so much.

Not My Chair, Not My Problem.* I mean this in the nicest way: I don’t really care what you think I should or shouldn’t be wearing. I don’t care if a HuffPost article tells me men don’t like women who wear bright lipstick (in fact, that makes me want to wear it more). I don’t care if you think I shouldn’t be wearing a teal and navy eye makeup look at 9:00am on a Tuesday morning. I’m not interested in some magazine’s “Do’s and Don’ts” rules for what I put on my own face. If it bothers you, you can close your eyes while you are talking to me. Just know that I will absolutely use that opportunity to stick my tongue out at you.

So now you know where I stand. (I’m sure you were dying to find out). If you don’t already have your own beauty philosophy, I encourage you to create one. Stand by it when challenged, but change it as you want. It’s your philosophy, and there is no right or wrong way to approach what you use makeup for. If anyone tells you otherwise, stick your tongue out at them…

Have a beautiful day 🙂


*10 virtual beauty points if you get that reference.

Nearly Newlywed

In an ideal world, I would do nothing but eat pomegranates and watch Shark Tank for the majority of my waking hours. That may seem like an odd combination, but everyone has their thing. And mine happens to be enjoying a low calorie, antioxidant-packed fruit while watching successful, creative entrepreneurs (and some, um, interesting ones) pitch their products/services to the sharks, in hopes that they can win over one of the mega rich investors.

While watching Shark Tank recently, my ears perked up when Jacqueline Courtney of Nearly Newlywed came into the tank. As the owner of a beauty services company that specializes in weddings, I am always interested in products and services that may be useful to my bridal clients. If there is something new or different in the industry, I love to be able to share that with my Allison Barbera Beauty brides. And Nearly Newlywed definitely falls into that “new or different” category.

Looking for a wedding gown? Nearly Newlywed has gowns designed exclusively for them, as well as sample and pre-owned gowns at 50-90% off. Their selections include gowns from designers Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang, Valentino and more. Whichever gowns you choose are shipped to you, which is great for those brides who don’t have the time or desire to visit several bridal boutiques. Nearly Newlywed gives you five days to try on your dresses, and whatever you don’t like, you send back for a flat $25 fee.

Want to sell your gown? Simply take your measurements, send photos and a description of the dress and pay the $25 listing fee. (If you bought the dress from Nearly Newlywed, it is already pre-approved for listing and you won’t pay the listing fee). They handle the transactions with any potential buyers and notify you when your dress has sold. Then you ship it to them and receive 75% of the sale price.

Jacqueline didn’t end up getting a shark to invest, but hey, that’s their loss. As someone with 6+ years in the wedding industry and hundreds of weddings under her belt, I think this is a really smart business idea that will continue to gain momentum. Check out the (very gorgeous) Nearly Newlywed site here: And here’s the Allison Barbera Beauty site, for all of you brides-to-be:

Have a beautiful day 🙂


Joseph Laurin Photography

There are a million crappy photographers out there. Sorry, but it’s true. I have looked through literally thousands of professional photographs during my 6.5 years as a makeup artist and while I have been fortunate enough to work with some true pros, I have realized that there are a lot of amateurs in the game. I don’t mean to be harsh, and I’m not claiming I know how to take a picture myself. But people hire photographers for weddings, editorial shoots, corporate jobs, etc. and I have to cringe when I see what some of these people have unfortunately paid for.

Luckily, there is Joe Laurin. Joe is insanely talented and in huge demand in the New England wedding industry. I have done several weddings and photoshoots with Joe, and I always recommend him without hesitation. Not only is he damn good at what he does, but working with him is like having a standup comedian with you. I try really hard not to make an ugly laughing face when Joe is in the room, for fear of him catching it on film, but it’s not easy. It’s not unusual for me to have to stop doing makeup for 30 seconds to compose myself (but don’t worry, I still always run on schedule!) while he is cracking a joke or telling a story about his kids.

I recently re-designed my website,, and realized how many beautiful photos I have from weddings and shoots with Joe. I thought “This would make a great blog post.” So here you go. Feast your eyes on this, then go check out Joe’s website,, for more. And if you want to hire him for your wedding, DO IT NOW! He books super fast.

For model and Allison Barbera Beauty hair stylist and makeup artist credits, please check out our Allison Barbera Beauty Weddings and Allison Barbera Makeup Artistry Facebook pages.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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Dear Lucky Stars: Thank You.

Every single day I think how very fortunate I am because I found my passion and I was able to make a career out of it. My job does not feel like work, it just feels like what I am supposed to be doing. It never gets old because I’m always doing different jobs, meeting interesting people and creating different looks. The worst part of what I do is lugging my kit and chair everywhere, and I don’t even mind that because it burns calories 🙂

This post might be helpful to aspiring makeup artists who are curious about what it’s like to have a career in the industry. Everyone’s take will be different and some might view what I think are advantages as disadvantages. But because I’m so grateful to have what I consider the best job in the world, I want to share what I love.

Why I Love Weddings

Weddings are such a big day and I love being part of that. I may be biased here, but I think one of the most fun parts of the wedding day (for the bride, anyway) is the getting ready time. For many women, getting dolled up is fun–even more so when your friends are there with mimosas in hand. Maybe I’ve been lucky enough to always have great brides, but the atmosphere of the getting ready time, as I know it, is full of fun, laughter and story telling. I really love making a bride happy, knowing that having the makeup look she wants is part of what she has envisioned for her wedding day. I’ve worked with a ton of wonderful brides and have stayed in touch with many of them. I look forward to doing many more weddings. 2012 is already shaping up to be a busy season 🙂

Why I Love Film/Television

In my opinion, there is nothing like the energy of being on set, especially when you get to work with a great cast and crew (a situation I’ve been lucky enough to be in many times). I love doing film and television makeup because I get to create character looks. Usually I am sent a script first, so I can get an idea of the character and picture what I think they’d look like, makeup-wise. Then I talk to the director, because he/she is the person I’m ultimately trying to please. I also have to take into consideration the actor or actress’ skin type, coloring, bone structure, preferences, etc. And I have to be aware of the lighting, wardrobe and makeup continuity. Another big part of film/television work is touchups. The lights (and sometimes nerves) can make the talent “glisten” a little, and onscreen shine is a big no-no. Everything has to look the same for each take and it is the makeup artist’s responsibility to ensure that the makeup does not fade, smudge, or move in any way. Working in film/television can mean longgggg days, but that doesn’t bother me. And yes, seeing the finished result on the big screen, or on tv, is definitely cool. Working on a film/tv show is a teamwork situation, and if you play well with others, it can be a lot of fun.

Why I Love Photoshoots

Photoshoots are where you really get to flex your creative muscles. Sometimes my shoots are more commercial–an ad for a specific product or service, which is less artistically creative (but I still love it). But the shoots I’m referring to here are more of the fashion or beauty variety. I’m talking glossy blue lips, multi-colored eyes, retro-inspired shoots. I once did a Barbie comic book shoot and it was a blast. In these type of shoots, your responsibility is to the photographer. You have to take their vision, add in your ideas and expertise and translate it to a look that works well on the model and in photos. Sometimes you’re doing more than one look, or working on more than one model, so you have to work quickly and be on top of things. And like with film/television, touchups are key. There’s great energy at photoshoots too, especially when you’ve got a talented team of photographer(s), hair stylists, stylists and models to work with. I’ve had some of my most fun days working on photoshoots and I am always planning more.

Why I Love Makeup Lessons

There are women who have no interest in wearing makeup, which is totally fine. I have no interest in camping or skiing and I wouldn’t want anyone to say I should try anyway. I respect that some people just aren’t into makeup, but I have found that most women are. But the biggest “issue” I hear from the women I meet is that they don’t know how to do their makeup. And that’s where I come in! I love helping women figure out what colors and types of products work best on them, and sharing tips, tricks and techniques is one of my favorite things to do. I truly believe that every woman has at least one beautiful feature, and properly applied makeup is a great way to showcase that feature or features. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is when someone gets up from my makeup chair and clearly has more confidence. Some people look at makeup as a superficial thing, but I disagree. As corny as it may sound, I see it as something that reflects the inner beauty, on the outside. I know that teaching women how to apply makeup in a way that works for them is a confidence builder and if that’s superficial, so be it!

Why I Love Teaching Classes

As my mother says, teaching is in my blood. Both she and my father were teachers for a long time, and I did love playing school when I was young 🙂 I’ve learned a lot about makeup over the years, and teaching is a way for me to share what I’ve learned. Whether it’s an informal setting, like a makeup party, or a formal setting, like a beauty school or corporate office, I really enjoy talking about makeup and demonstrating techniques. I don’t think makeup artists should be the only ones who know how to do makeup and I believe that one of the most important parts of what I do is teaching other people how to achieve looks that will work best for them. And I love helping aspiring makeup artists get started. I had help from experienced makeup artists when I first started, so I think it’s important to “pay it forward.”

And that was me keeping this post as short as possible! I love doing makeup, if you can’t tell. It’s as much a part of me as my child-sized wrists or freckled skin. If I won the lottery–which I plan on doing–I would still do makeup. It’s my calling, I have no doubt about it. I get “in the zone” when I am doing makeup (this may be the same zone that I strive for, but rarely reach, when I’m running). When I’m in the zone, I can’t think of anything else except the makeup application. If I’m not feeling well or stressed or someone is breaking my heart (not that I let that nonsense happen anymore), it doesn’t make a difference. Until I’m done doing the makeup, it is impossible for me to think about anything else. And that is definitely a blessing.

So that’s a little glimpse into my makeup-covered world. Thanks for reading.

Have a beautiful day 🙂