Memorial Day 2020

Photo Credit: Amy Gregg Photography

Good morning friends –

Today’s post will be short and sweet, as I have vowed to limit my time on social media for this holiday – Memorial Day. This Memorial Day, things are a little different. We are encouraged to stay home and avoid gathering on the lake. Many malls and shopping centers are closed due to social distancing, so customers will not be flooding the stores in search of the perfect summer outfit. Instead, this year we are all going to be quietly reflecting on the importance and magnitude of Memorial Day with our families in our homes, and while I could not be more ready for the COVID pandemic to be over… I’m also equally overwhelmed with a renewed sense of love and gratitude for our veterans. Let me explain…

As someone who has always worked in customer services, business management, and retail – Memorial Day and The Fourth of July have always meant new floor sets, pushing merchandise out the doors, and focusing on the commercialization of the holidays. Being a small business owner, thrust into a pandemic during the first year of being a makeup artist full time has brought to really evaluate my understanding of our freedoms and feel a true and overwhelming sense of gratitude for those rights as Americans. The lockdowns and social distancing measures have given us all a little time to read up on our history, gain a better understanding of our freedoms, and feel and immense love for our country as we see neighbors coming together to care for one another. I could not be filled with more gratitude for my civil rights, especially as we look at the unique situation we have found ourselves in.

It’s very interesting, I was chatting with my fiancé the other day and in distancing ourselves for so long, I actually have found that I’ve chatted with more kind hearted strangers picking up take-out or standing in line at the grocery store in the past three and half months than I have in the past five years. I’ve learned so many people’s stories, and been blessed to learn about people that I wouldn’t normally have chatted with. I feel blessed to see communities coming together to try and put food on the table for families who are without work and without food, I see communities sponsoring other local business owners and rallying behind them – and I have been blessed to grow my personal business network through this event because I’ve connected with so many new people. It has been very interesting to see how a virus whose goal was to take down many people across the globe has been dealt with through social distancing, but in turn has grown many of our communities stronger and resulted in many people finding new purpose. I see neighbors shopping locally and purchasing items that are American made, and it makes my heart swell with gratitude that we have the capacity to support our local businesses in this way.

I promised I would keep this short, and I do promise that I am swiftly growing near to the end. For me, Memorial Day is different this year. Memorial Day is a reminder that so many incredible men and women have given their lives to protect our freedoms (which so many of us have taken for granted for so very long) and also protect our communities. On Memorial Day, I encourage you to reflect a bit more about the blessings that have been placed upon us as Americans and I pray that you thank a veteran for their service today and every day. Regardless of anyone’s views on the lockdowns, we can all feel immense gratitude for our protected freedoms today and everyday because of the brave men and women that have sacrificed so much for each of us. Today I am grateful for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our country, the folks that have protected our rights, and for you.

Wishing you a joyful, reflective, and Happy Memorial Day.

God Bless You, God Bless Your Family, and God Bless America!


Vendor Spotlight – Amy Gregg Photography

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Amy of Amy Gregg Photography – based out of Minnesota. This sweet gal was kind enough to connect with me during this COVID craziness, and in following her journey over the past few months, learning about her business, and reading through all of her posts, I just had to share her with you! She is a sweet and kind soul that takes pride in her business and loves her customers like family. Please read below to get to know a bit more about her, and then connect on social media to follow her journey! Looking for a photographer? Feel free to follow the link to her website below and get connected via the contact form on her website! You will love her!

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what made you decide to build your own photography brand?

Amy: I am a storytelling photographer, based out of Minnesota, that doesn’t just capture beautiful photos, but beautiful stories. My mission is to give each client a client experience that is like none other. I decided to start up my photography business after years and years of capturing photos for friends and family, taking many classes and courses, and being consistently encouraged to turn it into my business. I have LOVED it! Meeting so many new and amazing people and getting to come alongside them to capture their beautiful story, makes my heart come alive! I am passionate about loving and serving each client fully!

Q: What things do you feel set your business and brand apart from other photography companies in the area?

Amy: I use the skill sets and training that I have in personal branding photography when I work with all my clients, so I can tailor each session to their unique story. From the very first meeting, I’m all about building a good relationship with each of my clients. I LOVE getting to know them and their story and finding ways to capture that story within each photograph.

Q: If you could educate the consumer on three questions they should be asking photographers when booking for special events, what would you suggest?

Amy: 1. Ask to see a full gallery of one of their previous sessions. The consistency of edits, the quality of photos, the amount of images you can expect from them on average, etc….This is SUCH a great way to get a feel for their style and what they can offer you. If it’s for your wedding, you’ll not only have proof that they can shoot a real wedding (not just styled-shoots) as a lead photographer (not just a second-shooter), but you’ll be able to see what a wedding day experience will be like with them.

2. Are they licensed and insured? Do they have smart business practices in place that will insure they are still around when your big day arrives? This is very important for wedding photography. A lot of wedding venues won’t let a photographer that isn’t insured, take photos at their venue. Without insurance, if your photographer accidentally breaks something at the venue, now you’re responsible for the cost. Make sure your photographer has good insurance in place. You do not need that extra surprise bill in the mail, when you get back from your honeymoon.

3. What’s their back-up measures? Do they have multiple ways they back up your photographs? Do they have backup gear in case something breaks at your session? Do they have backup photographers they can reach out to if something happens to them? Make sure they have back-up measures in place, to protect you and make sure you receive your photographs.

Q: If a potential client asked you the 3 questions above, how would you respond to them?

Amy: I am a licensed and insured professional photographer that pours my heart and soul into serving my clients. I give my clients as much education and information up front, so they know what to expect when they hire me. If they are looking to hire me for their wedding, I always set up an in person or at least video consultation to make sure we are the right fit for each other. During the consultation, I will walk them through what a wedding day experience is like with me, as I show them one of my full wedding galleries. I talk them through all my backup measures, the workflow, timeline, etc… so they can be reassured that their wedding day will be captured in a way that tells their story best and that they will receive their wedding photography experience and beautiful images that they invested in, by choosing me.

Q: What would you say is the most crucial piece of advice you would give all clients planning a wedding?

Amy: Don’t forget to date each other, during the season of wedding planning. You only get this season for a short time. Take time to still do the things that the two of you enjoy, to talk about the stuff that makes you both come alive, and to continue to get to know one another, without talking about the wedding planning. Your wedding day is just one day, so make sure you invest in the relationship that will remain after the wedding day.

Q: What types of photography do you offer outside of weddings? How far in advance do you book these types of events?

Amy: I offer recurring Personal Branding Photography sessions for entrepreneurs in the wedding industry. I book yearly, quarterly, or other customized sessions based on the needs of my clients. The first session I like to book at least a few months out, so we can make sure we have enough time for the planning session and everything that they want to line up for the actual session. I also offer storytelling sessions for all my couples, families, seniors, etc… These sessions I book out up to a year ahead of time, especially for prime dates, but require at least 2 weeks before their date to book, so we have time to plan an amazing session that will tell their story the best!

Q: How would you describe your personal photography style?

Amy: I create bright, clean, and timeless photographs, which stands out from the dark and moody style that is common here Minnesota. There are SO MANY styles of photography and editing, but I wanted to focus on photos that will still be in style 100 years from now, not just trending in this current year.  I wanted photos that weren’t distracting, told the story well, put the focus on making the clients look their best, and could be showcased on the wall for years to come. To create a story through my images that can be told and passed down for generations.

Q: What exciting things should we watch for in the future from you and your company?

Amy: I’m SO excited to be offering drone footage as an add-on to my personal branding photography and possibly my wedding packages this upcoming year! 

Q: What else would you like clients to know about you?

Amy: I am Amy Gregg: a wife to my amazing husband, mom to my sweet children here on earth and in heaven, believer in Jesus Christ, creative/photographer, educator, active outdoors enthusiast, country lover, animal lover, encourager, and an overcomer. I’m a born and raised Minnesotan and say words like: “Uff-Dah” + “Ope”. Most days you’ll find me outside with my family on our farm with our farm animals. I’m known for my passion to live life to the fullest in every area + I put my focus on quality versus quantity. People often refer to me as a bubbly go-getter. The things I am most passionate about in life are my faith, marriage, family, friends, + making a difference in others’ lives.

Q: How can consumers find you?



Instagram: @amygreggphotography

The Perfect Sunkissed Glow

Currently, we are on week… Three..? Four..? Seventeen..? Of Quarantine. My Facebook is filled with memes and videos begging for the government to deem beauty pros and medical grade dermatology offices and spas essential. We are dealing with grey hair, lack of botox, and let’s not even discuss the upper lip and eye brow situation, am I right? Being from Central Minnesota, I have spent the past six months self-quarantining because of the frigid winter weather and I am ready – oh so ready – for some sunshine and to be out and about with my clients and family. I’m sure that if you are reading this, you are ready too… So today I want to teach you a few tricks to faking that “I just returned from the beaches of Cabo” glow, yes even in the middle of a world wide pandemic.

For starters, you should be advised that there are a few different versions of bronzers and all serve a very important purpose. But it is equally important to remember that your bronzer and contour shades should be very different in nature. A bronzer, historically speaking is more of a bronze or terra-cotta undertone and mimics the illusion that you have been out on the beach, drinking your favorite margarita all afternoon. A contour shade should be a soft and cool undertone, and used to mimic and enhance the natural shadows of the face to create more dimension and a gentle sculpt to the cheekbones and jaw line.

When applying bronzer to the skin, it should be applied with a fluffy brush – not terribly dense. I really enjoy using a natural fiber brush for this step as it blends and blurs the products smoothly over the skin without getting too heavy the way a densely packed synthetic brush would. I also like to swirl the brush directly into the product, and tap the excess off before applying it to the face. (It’s really easy to go from zero to sixty and turn yourself into a muddy mess if you are too aggressive with the bronzer right out of the gate). Once the excess has been removed, using large sweeping, circular motions to apply the bronzer, and I gently pinch the middle half of the handle (further from the bristles) to control the application, but never apply too much pressure. The bronzer itself should be applied to the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, along the hairline of the forehead, and underneath the jaw line (ever so slightly). I also bring the color down the neck and brush it along the decollate to give an overall glow. Be sure to use minimal product when doing this to ensure you do not cause yourself to look orange or unnaturally bronzed. A rule of thumb is that the bronzer should only be applied wherever the sun would naturally kiss your skin. You can also use the “3 and E” method as you will be applying the bronzer along the perimeter of the face in the shape of a 3 and E to build that natural dimension.

Now, which bronzers do I love to use on myself and on clients? Truly, there are so many different options for bronzers. I used to be super loyal to “Warmth” from Bareminerals (link here), but because of its loose nature, it has become far too messy for my liking. Instead, I prefer a compact powder formulation over a loose pigment or cream contour. I have found that this gives me a greater level of control over the amount of product that I use and where I apply it.

For a contouring shade, I enjoy the TooFaced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer (link here). This product is not terribly warm-toned, nor is it terribly cool-toned either. Instead it is a nice neutral shade that you can use to give a sunkissed illusion in a pinch, or use as a contour shade as well. I also really enjoy using the matte Park Avenue Princess waterproof bronzer (link here) from Tarte when greating a soft contour. It also has a soft and neutral undertone, but I would say it leans more cool so I do not like to use it for a true bronze. It is so important that your contour shade never be warm or shimmery in nature, as the contour is supposed to amplify and define the shadows of your face, and essentially cancel out extra light. By using something with a shimmer or shine, it actually creates conflicting light sources and makes you appear more “plump” or “glowy” in areas you would much rather avoid.

To create that subtle, back from the beach tan, I enjoy using the Beautycounter bronzers in “Dune” or “Surf” (link here). I actually have picked up all three shades, but I find myself reaching for these two shades the most often. They have a soft shimmer and terra-cotta tone to them, which gives the illusion that you have been lounging on the beaches of St. Tropez while a cute waiter brings you a margarita. Seriously, I use these on all of my brides after applying a gentle contour and a little blush, and the effect is AMAZING.

Want to know a trick? If you’ve gotten a little wild and western with the bronzer, take a moment to blend everything out with a clean, product-free brush. This will soften any harsh lines and serves as a buffer to smooth out a heavy-handed application. After, be sure to use a setting powder, or translucent powder with a little glow. This will act as a veil that helps with longevity of your makeup, and assists in making the makeup last longer, but it also helps to smooth out and blur any choppiness that may come from blending in a fury. I love, love, love the Too Faced Ethereal Translucent Powder (link here) and highly recommend this as an awesome option for you to use!

So why is bronzer important? Well, when clients skip the bronzer, blush, and highlight it can leave your makeup looking a little too dimensional and almost plastic-y. Think about when you are not wearing makeup, your natural skin has a lot of different tones, dimension, and natural coloring. Rosy cheeks, a gentle tan if you’ve been outside, freckles here and there. When you apply your foundation – whether liquid or powder – you apply it to cancel out any discoloration that your skin naturally has, but in doing so it also cancels out the dimension and natural tones that bring your skin to life. This is why it is so important to implement a blush or bronzer, or both and top it off with a little highlight! When applied with a gentle hand and the appropriate brush, your makeup routine will truly yield the most beautiful results. Happy bronzing!

Vendor Spotlight – Chris Leivian of GunpowderNGloss

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my personal friend, and the brand owner of a local beauty brand – Chris Leivian of Gunpowder ‘N Gloss. I was blessed to meet Chris years ago when I was a consultant for Estee Lauder, she was actually my account executive. I was lucky enough to receive some great training and techniques while working within her district, and then years later we connected again!

Chris has been a great friend, ally, and confidant over the past few years – and so I truly wanted to bring her brand to all of my followers and clients! I am a strong supporter and lover of small businesses, and Chris’ brand is no exception. Within my kit, I have about 16 of her original liquid lipstick colors, and I use them to custom blend a lip color for each of my clients. I even have quite a few lip glosses that I love from the brand as well. So take a look below, get to know a bit about this awesome brand and my dear friend Chris, and if you are so inclined – CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE! You will not be sorry that you picked up one of her products, and while you are shopping please feel free to use my personal discount code of “ASHLEY20” to save 20% off of just about everything on the website! She even has some awesome merchandise you will love!

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what made you decide to build your own beauty brand?

Chris: From growing up in the country as a farmgirl and 20+ years experience in the cosmetic industry I decided when I had my first child that I wanted to work for myself and start a makeup brand for people here in the midwest! I wanted my brand to relate to people like me livin’ tuff and pretty and have a country vibe to it and be a cleaner brand.

Q: What things do you feel set your business and brand apart from other beauty brands on the market, and how do you continue to hold yourself to even higher standards and continue to raise the bar in your industry?

Chris: It is important to me that our company offers a product that is in line with what consumers are asking for today, which is products containing  less harsh chemicals. Our products at this time are paraben free, gluten free, cruelty free, and vegan. I am currently researching products to be made organic for my brand to stay ahead of consumer requests for the launching of my future makeup categories.  At this time, we have updated our packaging to stand out amongst competitors in the beauty industry by having it made without glue and is recyclable and biodegradable. We hope that sets us apart from other makeup brands.

Q: If you could educate the consumer on three questions they should be asking at the beauty supplier to ensure that they are well educated on the products they are buying , which three questions would you suggest?

Chris: The three questions I think people should be aware of when buying their cosmetics: What’s in the product? Where was it made? Why is the cost more for a natural product?

Q: If a consumer asked you the three questions above, how would you respond to them?

Chris: -Our products are made natural which means we’ve taken out known ingredients that could be harmful to people

-Our products are paraben free, gluten free, vegan and cruelty free and have some organic oils as well. 

-Our products are made in the USA; American companies are understanding and changing their manufacturing of cosmetic products, due to the demand of cleaner products and making sure they are compliant with consumer demand.

-The reason why natural products are priced higher is for the raw ingredient; they are harder to cultivate and create. Other companies also source out less expensive ingredients such as petroleum ingredients or chemicals so they can make a bigger profit.

Q: What makes GunpowderNGloss different?

Chris: Gunpowder ‘N Gloss beauty is a cruelty free, paraben free country makeup line for the outdoorsy tuff and pretty! All our products allow you to embrace your inner tomboy with a feminine country flair!

Q: Where do you refer clients that are seeking out information on certain ingredients and safety? How can they check your packaging or website to make sure they do not have an allergy to one of the ingredients?

Chris: Skincarisma is a super-easy-to-use website that not only lists a product’s ingredients but also breaks them down into what they’re actually doing for your skin, plus the suitability for each skin type. It then tells you if the product contains parabens, alcohol, and sulfates. Unlike other ingredient checkers, Skincarisma also has a section where you can paste the ingredients, meaning they don’t necessarily need to have the product in their library for you to analyze it. So handy.

Q: What are three lip products that every gal needs in her makeup bag from GunpowderNGloss?

Chris: My favorite 3 lip products that you should have in your makeup bag is Farmgirl liquid matte lip( stays on for hours),  Hint of mint Cowgirl up Lip Gloss( matches your own lip color), and Hint of Mint Buck Naked lip gloss, Clear gloss for the no makeup look or to throw it over any other lip product for a hydrating high shine look.

Q: What exciting things should we watch for in the future from GunpowderNGloss?

Chris: I will be offering new product categories as I build my brand, however, the first products to be featured at this time are: Gunpowder ‘N Gloss Duo Gloss, Hint of Mint Gloss, our Natural shadow palette, Eye primer and Liquid Matte Lip Products. I am currently testing out an organic lip gloss and cream lip to introduce seasonally for clients. Of course, I want everything but we want to take our time and make sure we make not just good products but Great products!

Q: What is one thing that you think each and every consumer needs to know when searching for the perfect lip color?

Chris: When searching for the perfect lip product; make sure it fits you, do You feel good in it, is the texture smooth and not tacky; does it stay on well.

Q: If you could only use one beauty product for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Chris: My number one product I can’t live without is a moisturizer, and of course a good lip product! Our skin needs moisture to stay healthy and youthful. That’s why I am testing some organic skincare because my brand needs an amazing skincare routine! A great lip color can brighten anyones day!

Q: How can consumers get ahold of you?

Pinterest: Gunpowder ‘N Gloss

Instagram (Business): @gunpowderngloss

Instagram (Behind the scenes and personal): @tuffandpretty

Facebook: Gunpowder ‘N Gloss Beauty


A Moment of Reflection

Me and My Grandmother – May 2014

Hello everyone, and Happy Easter! I know that today is unique for many of us as we are experiencing moments of confusion, uncertainty, and even sadness with regard to COVID-19 and the impact that it has created on our lives. I am just like you, I have been feeling all of the things – truly the whole darn spectrum. But, today as I sit down to write this post for you, a truly unusual post (as my blog is solely devoted to makeup, product reviews, and wedding prep) I find myself reflecting on the past month and a half of our lives… And I just want to share some of these thoughts with you.

First and foremost, I have to remind myself daily that it is okay to feel all of the emotions. We are complex human beings – and one unique characteristic that we have is the opportunity to feel a whole range of emotions in just a brief period of time. What also makes us unique is that we can recognize these feelings, allow ourselves to acknowledge them, and then pick ourselves up and keep moving and focus that energy and emotion into something positive. So one way I have been trying to redirect my feelings, is to use this time to be reflective of where I have been, take moments to be grateful for the experiences I have, and take this time to be more present with my family members and clients and grow my business. I am taking this 30+ days of “quarantine” to work on me, my business, and my opportunity to impact more lives.

So what does this mean, how am I being reflective? Well, in July of 2018 I first announced my desire to offer my makeup artistry services privately, and put my business out on the market. I was concerned about the potential to fail, what happens if no one contacts me? I mean I had 6 years of experience working for other companies at this point, but there is something frazzling about putting yourself out there, and being in charge of your successes and failures. And after having lost my grandmother and best friend just over a year prior, I felt it was time to stop making excuses and give it a shot. Since my first job with Clinique, my grandmother had pressured me to pursue my passion of makeup and try to make a career out of it. At the time, I found numerous excuses such as “being too busy,” “having too much school work,” or “working too much.” But do you want to know what the real reason I waited so long to build my own company? Fear. Fear that I could and would fail. Fear that maybe people wouldn’t like my artistry style, or maybe they wouldn’t like me. But in losing my grandmother, the biggest cheerleader I’ve ever known – I knew it was time to do something about that fear. I had been given a gift in light of having something so important taken from me, and I would be disrespecting myself, but also my grandmother’s memory if I didn’t take that opportunity. Between July of 2018 and today, I have been given the opportunity to paint hundreds of faces, communicate with thousands of people, and touch countless lives. And to be honest, had I not lost my grandma so tragically, I probably wouldn’t have realized just how short life is… And I wouldn’t have taken the leap to start my own business. So for that, I feel so much gratitude and love as I reflect on my “WHY” – why it is that I do what I do.

Now, I know what you are thinking… “What does this have to do with the current state of the world?” Well, much like losing my grandmother – we have had something taken from us. We have lost the hustle and bustle of daily life that we all take for granted. I know that personally, I love supporting small businesses and getting take out for dinners… But with the corona virus, many restaurants and “non-essential” businesses have been forced to cease their operations for this short period. The convenience of running to your local boutique to pick up a new outfit has been interrupted, and the option to gather together for parties and weddings has temporarily been put on pause. So through this corona virus pandemic, although we may not know someone personally that has passed away or experienced the virus, we still have lost something. We have all lost the normalcy that we have come to know. But how do we take that experience and turn it into something useful? How can we take something that has brought on so much stress and fatigue and find moments of reflection? How do we choose joy in a time that is so bleak?

Each day, I force myself to think of 3 things that I am truly grateful for. They can be something small and seemingly insignificant, or they can be large and impactful. But every morning, as I force myself to make breakfast, get dressed, and begin my day – I take a few moments to myself in the quiet to be reflective and remind myself what blessings I have in my life. I have found that for me, taking these moments to be present with myself and intentionally thankful for the things that I can control, or that I have been blessed with, it is a great way to set the tone for the rest of my day. I choose to take each day, and remind myself that I have been given the opportunity to recharge and live each day with intention and be impactful. You too can take this time to look inward, and try your best to see things in a more positive light.

We have been given a gift. It doesn’t feel that way, I know… We are all anxious about when we can go back to work, we are nervous about getting the virus, and we are scared of all of the unknowns. But we have forcibly been encouraged to take a pause, take a moment to look inward, and reset. If you are at home with your significant other, look to them for mutual strength, but also be honest with them about your feelings – there is a reason that you have chose to do life with them. If you are at home with kiddos, remember that children are going through these unique emotions at this time as well. Be present with them as well, focus on fostering family relationships and showing immense love during this time. I know, it’s tough to balance schoolwork while working from home – but we have been given a gift to be with our immediate family during this time and recognize the important role they play. Have a passion you want to pursue, but finding excuses why you shouldn’t do it? If you have free time during this chaos, take a few moments to pursue that passion that you have put on hold for so many years. This is your opportunity to try something new – the excuse of being too busy, or running too many errands is no longer there for this short while. Take advantage of that.

Guys, as I reflect on this uncertain time I know it hard to find a rainbow at the end of a storm. Lord knows that we have weathered one heck of a storm, and we don’t know when the end will come. But I can tell you this, the pandemic has been a bold face, reach-out-and-slap-you, reminder that life is short, so incredibly freaking short. Life is unique, and we only have one shot to get it right. So in these moments of chaos and uncertainty, think about what things you want to pursue and how you want to come out of this stronger. We have been given a gift in disguise of immense grief, but today – on Easter Sunday – look around your table at your family. Choose love, choose joy, and choose gratitude. Choose intention and positivity. And above all else, choose faith. If you believe that we will weather the storm, we will come out of this better than ever, and that the time to act intentionally is now – there is nothing that can stop you, not even this silly virus. They say that when God closes a door, he opens a window. Search for that window, and use the opportunity he has thrust upon you. Sending love, good thoughts, and positivity your way. God bless.


What’s in my kit? Frequently Used Cosmetics

It seems like we have recently been spending a considerable amount of time at home recently (I can’t imagine why, can you?). But because of this, I want to give YOU the tools to succeed at doing your own makeup. In light of this, I have also actually come up with a few virtual makeup lesson courses, and I hope to launch a module based program in the near future to assist in helping you become your own beauty pro!

With that being said, I have also compiled a list of amazing products that I recommend you pick up to add to your current beauty routine! They are super high-quality and quite honestly, some of my most frequently reached for goodies!

Let’s begin by chatting about one of my favorite traditional foundations and the only primer I use. For primer, I use the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Balm (link here). It never dries out my clients, but also keeps the oils at bay and it creates a perfect canvas for just about any foundation I have used it with. I love, love, love the Amazonian Clay Foundation from Tarte (link here). This great formulation is a cream with an Amazonian Clay base that is great for dry and oily skin types alike! If you are more dry, partner this foundation with a great moisturizer and hydrating primer. Set with a bit of translucent powder, and this baby is not going anywhere. If you are more oily, paired with an oil control primer and mattifying primer, this foundation will last all day and give a beautiful finish to the skin. The other cool thing about this foundation is that it is versatile in the amount of coverage it can offer. I like to blend the foundation out with a kabuki brush that I’ve spritzed with rose water to give a soft and natural coverage that showcases beautiful freckles – conversely, this foundation can also offer an incredible, full-coverage finish as well. It is also fantastic for sensitive skin as it doesn’t have any harsh chemicals or ingredients that would cause irritation. For my airbrush goodies, I am incredibly loyal to the Temptu S/B Foundation (link here) as it offers flawless (and customizable) coverage, and is virtually waterproof all day long.

For concealers, I like a few different options. Primarily I carry 12 shades of the HD Undereye Concealer from NYX, but I also love the Touchup Skin Concealer Pen from Beautycounter (link here). The NYX one works great for my clients as I can carry so many color options and it is easily accessible for refills, but there is something about the texture of the Beautycounter one that is amazing! Great options for either budget.

Translucent powders are wonderful for baking under the eyes, and dusting as a final step over your liquid and cream foundations, the two that I toggle between are the TooFaced Ethereal Setting Powder (link here) and the Laura Mercier Translucent Powder (link here). Both are super finely milled, and offer zero flash back. They also blur our texture, pores, and fine lines while locking liquids and creams in place. I also like to use a powder foundation from time to time as well. I truly enjoy the silky blend of the TooFaced Born This Way Powder Foundation (link here). I enjoy using this as a personal powder foundation from time to time, but I also really enjoy dusting this over the top of a liquid foundation as a blurring top coat, or even touch-up option after hours of being out in the hot sun on wedding day. So good.

Eye shadow palettes, oh man there are so many I love! Commonly, I find myself reaching for three when it comes to most of my bridal looks. They are as follows (in no particular order): Sweet Peach Eye Shadow Palette (link here), Urban Decay Naked Heat (link here) and Tarte Tarteist PRO (link here). I have found that most of my clients love a warm-tone neutral look to the eye. These three palettes offer a soft and blended out shadow look that give a soft romantic essence – especially as you are about to walk down the aisle. Not to mention they offer zero product (skip) when you are blending them out. For brows, I use powder from the Eyelure x Vegas Nay collaboration or the brow powders from Anastasia Beverly Hills. If 30 second brows are more your thing, I recommend going for the Beautycounter Brow Gel (link here) – it has baby fibers and is tinted to create a natural and sculpted brow, which also fills in any “sparse” areas.

Blushes, Bronzers, and Highlighters – If you missed my previous post about why you should be incorporating blush and bronzer in your daily routine, definitely go and check it out (link here). As you may know, blush, bronzer, and highlighter create much needed dimension to your makeup look – and so I am always sure to carefully select shades and undertones that will compliment your natural flush as well as your makeup look. I thoroughly enjoy the Park Avenue Princess Palette by Tarte (link here), and Too Faced’s Milk Chocoloate Soleil Bronzer (link here) to add a pop of contour to the face. I enjoy these products as well because they offer a great neutral to cool undertone that blends beautifully into the contours of the face. For an amazing bronzer, I really love the warm and subtle shimmer of the Beautycounter Bronzers (link here) – they never get heavy or orange, but they give you a sunkissed glow that makes anyone believe we haven’t been cooped up all winter. For blush, you would be safe with any shade of the Amazonian Clay Powders from Tarte (link here) or the Satin Powder Blushes from Beautycounter (link here). And finally for highlighter, I love the Sundipped Glow from Anastasia Beverly Hills or the Luminous Powder Highlighter from Beautycounter (link here).

Brushes are such an important portion to your tool kit, this is why I have created an entire course in my Virtual Makeup Lessons catering to this topic! Some great brands for brushes are ITCosmetics, Morphe, Real Techniques, and Sigma. The important thing to remember when selecting brushes is that you want to ensure you are purchasing items that will work for your necessary uses. A combination of eye and face brushes are crucial to creating a perfectly blended makeup look.

For setting sprays, there are two that I use on each and every one of my clients. I love to spritz the Mario Badescu Rose Water Spray (link here) after using setting powder to finish off the look, and then I follow it up with the Urban Decay All Nighter Spray (link here). The reason I layer the two is that the rosewater spray will meld the powders into the skin, and the All Nighter spray will lock the makeup in place for HOURS.

Oh man, you can tell by the image above that I carry A LOT of lip products with me, like a whole heck of a lot. I find myself commonly reaching for liquid lipsticks from GunpowderNGloss (linkhere) and lip glosses from Beautycounter (link here). I also really enjoy the Color Intense traditional lipsticks from Beautycounter (link here). If you like a plumping gloss and don’t mind the feeling of chili powder on the lips, the Lip Injection Extreme from Too Faced is a great option (link here).

Here’s the thing you guys, there are SO MANY products on the market that there is no “right answer” with what you should or should not be using… But with that being said, all of the goodies that I have listed above are tried, true, and have not failed me once! So now that you know all about my favorite products, be sure to sign up for my virtual makeup lessons by emailing me at and learn the techniques that will level up your daily makeup usage!

Disclosure: Links from Too Faced and Beautycounter will create a small commission for me if you purchase items with my links. I would love if you could shop with me and support my small business in this way!

Vendor Spotlight: CLN&DRTY

– Paula Hoss –

This week I have the honor of introducing you to Paula Hoss of CLN&DRTY! To be completely honest, I don’t recall how I stumbled across this amazing brand and these beautiful people on social media – but boy am I sure glad I did! You know how you get that warm and fuzzy feeling when you come across a company that truly loves their customers the way they love their family? That is the feeling these amazing gals give! Please check them out, their products are fantastic and so high quality, but they’re truly good people!

Below, you will find a brief Question and Answer session with Paula as she talks about her skincare brand and her passion. After reading through everything, please feel free to follow her on social media and fill your vanity with these amazing products! As a special treat, by using code “Ashley20” you will save 20% on all of their full-priced goodies on the website!

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what made you decide to build your own clean beauty brand?
Paula: I’m a mom of 2 girls, a wife and a pet mom to 8 chickens and a 150 lb Great Dane. I founded CLN&DRTY 4 years ago when I couldn’t find natural products that would help with cystic acne that was triggered by hormonal changes from my pregnancies. 

Q: What things do you feel set your business and brand apart from other “clean” beauty brands on the market, and how do you continue to hold yourself to even higher standards and continue to raise the bar in your industry?

Paula: We focus on 3 things: creating products that are completely safe, focusing on formulations that are radically effective and always keeping customer relationships at the center of our business. 

Every single one of our ingredients has been checked against the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to ensure that they’re safe in the ratios that we have them in our formulations. We work with the nation’s top cosmetics formulators to create recipes that are incredibly effective for targeted skincare concerns. Most importantly, we value our customer relationships above everything else by connecting with our community 1:1 and truly listening to their questions and feedback. 

Q: If you could educate the consumer on three questions they should be asking MLM sellers, and consultants at the beauty supplier to ensure that they are well educated on the products they are selling, which 3 questions would you suggest?

Paula: 1. What ingredients should I be seeking out for my targeted skincare concerns? 2. What order should I use these products in? 3. Which products are absolutely necessary and which ones are optional?

Q: If a consumer asked you the 3 questions above, how would you respond to them?

Paula: It would depend on their skincare concerns. For instance, if we had a customer with hormonal acne, I would tell them to seek out products with tea tree, chemical exfoliators like AHA and salicylic acid. I would tell them to cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize and finally spot treat and I would tell them to focus first on a great cleanser and a skin appropriate moisturizer and then fill in the gaps with new products as they run out.

Q: What are 3 ingredients that consumers should absolutely be searching for on the back of their packages for, and avoiding at all costs?

Paula: Preservatives that release formaldehydes, artificial fragrances and parabens. 

Q: Where do you refer clients that are seeking out information on certain ingredients and safety? Is there any other asset they should be using?

Paula:We absolutely love as a resource for researching ingredients and products. They have a wonderful app that you can use at the store and if you’re looking to research more independent brands like CLN&DRTY, you can use their Skin Deep database to individually research the ingredients that you’ll find on the back panel of cosmetics. 

Q: If you could send someone home with three “Holy Grail” products, what CLN&DRTY items do they need in their regimen?

Paula: Our Freshly Peeled 10% AHA treatment is absolutely amazing and our entire team is obsessed with it. – What I love about it is that it treats such a wide variety of skincare concerns from acne to discoloration to fine lines. Plus, because it’s a higher concentration of alpha-hydroxy acids, it works faster and the customer will see results faster than with other products. 

The New Romantic cleansing stick has quickly become a fan favorite because it’s perfect for travel and our favorite must-have gym bag product. Plus, it smells exactly like Fruit Loops cereal, which is so cool because we only use essential oils as fragrances in it.

If you happen to have acne, our Goodbye Acne roller is our top selling product ever: – It features non-comedogenic Jojoba Oil, Tea Tree Oil and Lavender and Lemon Oils. It’s by far the best spot treatment I’ve ever used because it doesn’t dry out skin, but rather it reduces inflammation, which is the source of acne. 

Q: What exciting things should we watch for in the future from CLN&DRTY?

Paula: We positioning ourselves to be on the shelves of all your favorite stores in 2021, so keep your eyes open! In order to do that, we’ll be launching a round of crowd funding in late March of this year and an amazing collection of 7 brand new products in April. 

Q: What is one thing that you think each and every consumer needs to know when searching for their skincare and personal care products?

Paula: Be mindful that companies can put all kinds of claims and call-outs on their labels, which is really just marketing. Educate yourself on ingredients and find brands that you can trust.

Q: How can consumers get ahold of you?

Pinterest: @CLNandDRTY  
Twitter: n/a
Instagram: @CLNandDRTY  
TikTok: @PaulaHoss

Frequently Asked Questions

By now, you’ve probably chatted with atleast 15 different vendors for your wedding day or other special event. Your mind is swimming with ideas and anxiety about what vendor you should hire, how to decide what is more “important” when sticking to a budget, and the ever pressing concern of “Which questions should I be asking?” Below are a few questions that I frequently get asked by clients, and potential clients on a daily basis.

If you haven’t perused my blog post about “Tips for Communicating with Your Vendors”, be sure to follow the link here and then also check out “Selecting Your Wedding Vendors” by following the link here. These small blogs will be super helpful in not only choosing your beauty pro, but also any of the other vendors on your list as well!

How did you get involved in makeup?

In 2012, I moved home to pursue schooling and a potential career in Social work, while attending SCSU. To pay for school, one of the jobs that I took on was a part-time consultant position at Clinique within Herberger’s – and from there I fell in love! I learned so much about skincare, sanitation, client makeup applications, and the basis of great customer service! I knew that I loved cosmetics, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to turn it into a career. Fast forward a few years, and working for awesome brands such as Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Ulta Beauty – where I was given the opportunity to work with so many great brands – and now I own my small beauty biz. Truly, there is nothing more rewarding and humbling to me than being given the opportunity to be part of your special day!

Where can we find pictures of your work?

I have an extensive amount of photos on my social media, but you can also check out a few of my client galleries on my website too! If you are searching for bridal photos, I recommend checking out the bridal gallery. Searching for photos of clients outside of the bridal realm? Check out my lifestyle gallery, where you can find pictures from engagement sessions, boudoir, head shots and branding, and senior photos (soon to be added).

What are some of your favorite brands?

I like a variety of brands, really I don’t have much brand loyalty as I am someone who believes that each brand does something amazing, but no brand does it all perfectly. Because of this, I love to mix and match products from well known brands to create the highest quality, and longest lasting looks for you. In addition to this, product safety is also terribly important to me so for skin prep I use brands such as Beautycounter, CLN&DRTY, and Clinique as they are great for sensitive clients and they are formulated with your safety in mind. Other well known brands I carry are Tarte Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Laura Mercier, Estee Lauder, and so many more. Truly, the products I carry in my kit have not only been tested on myself for weeks before I purchase another and add it to my kit, but I also test it on tons of people before it becomes a staple for me. Rest assured, I will never show up to an event with something new and untested. Your special day is not a time for my experimental research!

Do you offer airbrush?

Yes! At this time I do offer BOTH airbrush and traditional makeup artistry services! When I launched my beauty biz, I was stubborn and not ready to invest in airbrush. I can be a bit obstinate at times, and so I had a hard time wrapping my mind around how airbrush products could/would be effective. However, after getting many client requests, I broke down and bought the system and forced myself to learn. Now, I can happily and confidently say that I offer airbrush to a majority of my clients. While my traditional products offer over 12+ hours of wear, I always recommend opting for airbrush as those goodies offer 16+ hours of flawless coverage. Truly, I love, love, love airbrush!

What is your booking process?

My booking policies are pretty straight forward. Once you decide to book with me, I will send out a contract information request form. This form will lay out all of the pertinent information that I will need to write up your custom contract – you will have 48 hours to return this document, with all of the information to me. Once I receive your information, I will write your contract the same day and return to you with your retainer invoice. I require a non-refundable retainer, and a signed contract to secure your date. You will have 7 calendar days from the date that I send your information to you to return your retainer and documents. If you are unable to fulfill these criteria, and do not communicate with me, you will forfeit your date, and it will be granted to the next client on the wait list. Wedding services book up quickly, so I do this to ensure that the market is a fair playing field for other brides.

Do you have a required number of clients to book?

Yes, Saturdays during peak season (May-October) I do require a minimum of 5 clients to travel on-site to you. Fridays and Sundays, I do have a bit more flexibility to work with you, so please ask for specifics. If you do have a Saturday wedding during peak season but fall short of 5 clients, do not worry there are other options. If you have not secured hair services, we can chat about pricing for this if your timeline permits. If you do not have interest in hair services, there are also other options to get you to the 5 client minimum. Please feel free to connect to learn more. I’m flexible, and I would love to work with YOU!

How do we get in touch with you?

Email is always best! I check my emails frequently, and unless there are unforeseen circumstances, you can expect a response within 24 hours. You can email me directly at or fill out the contact information form here. You can also connect with me on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

What Does Working with Ashley Look Like?

Photo Courtesy of Jojo Legnitto Photography

Making your day special and run flawlessly smooth are easily two of my top priorities. Whether it be prepping for corporate headshots, getting glammed for a boudoir shoot or senior photos, or hanging out with your gal pals before prom or wedding day – offering top notch customer service and quality results are always at the forefront of my mind. So, what is it like to work with me? What can YOU, the client, expect when hiring me for your special day? Read on below to find out a bit more, and feel free to send me an email with any questions that I may not go over!

Punctuality & A Great Attitude

Girl, it is your day. The last thing you need is to have your artist show up late, haphazard, or grumpy. Truth be told, the morning of your event I am just about as excited as you are! You have planned for months and months for this day, and I always feel so humbled and blessed that you have trusted me with the honor of working with you! I like to show up 15-30 minutes early (dependent on when the venue lets us in to set up) – that way I am organized and all set up to start right when you show up! I also show up with a suitcase full of terrible dad jokes, and a great sense of humor to ensure that you ladies are left smiling the whole morning through! No stress mornings are my specialty.

Photo Courtesy of Jojo Legnitto Photography

Safety, Sanitization and Cleanliness

Keeping things clean, orderly, and well sanitized is the number one goal on my list. I always have extra brushes, brush cleaner, alcohol, and disposable implements on hand to ensure that you feel great about the lack of potential for cross contamination. If you have an artist that is dipping directly into mascara or lipgloss with the standard applicator, you should genuinely question how safe that product it. I can assure you that while working with me, you will NEVER have to worry about that. I hold myself to an extremely high standard when it comes to your safety, so you can take solstice in knowing that I will go above and beyond. In addition to sanitization and cleanliness, your safety with regard to allergens is also super important to me! This is why I request a detailed list of any known allergies so that I can scour my ingredient lists to keep you safe and limit any potential for irritation on the day of your special event.

Custom Blended Foundation and Concealers

I offer traditional and airbrush makeup applications, and the opportunity to custom blend a skin tone for each of my clients. I carry 12 shades of each formulation in my kit, varying from those whom are rather fair complected such as myself, all the way to a deep ebony. Having this versatility for foundation and concealer is important to me to always ensure I have something to offer each and every one of my clients. I color match each client along the neck and jawline to ensure a seamless blend of the coloring between the face and neck to ensure there are never any pesky mismatch situations as well.

Photo is Courtesy of Rockensock Weddings

Start to Finish Services

From skin prep to setting spray, there is not a single step I skip when taking care of my beauty clients. While I request that you always come with freshly cleansed and moisturized skin, I take special care to chat with you about your skin type and then offer customized skincare options for you. I prep the skin with safe and high-quality skincare and primers to ensure that your custom makeup look lasts all day, and well into the evening. Evening out your complexion with concealer and foundation comes next, and locking everything into place with high-performing powders, and finally I give each bridesmaid a custom highlight, contour, and blush experience to give a soft and chiseled look to the face. Then, each client receives a customized eye look and lip color to give a unique flair to their look. Topping everything off with false lashes (per customer’s request) and boosting skin’s hydration with a special blend of setting sprays, your beautiful makeup should last 12-16+ hours dependent on which products we use! Yes, you will look amazing for last call – I promise!

Reserving Your Date and Appointment

My booking process involves a comprehensive client consultation, whether via phone or email, and then collecting information to write your unique client contract. When you should decide to book with me, each date is reserved on a first come – first serve basis, and your date will be secured once you have paid your non-refundable retainer of 20% and returned your signed contract within the 7 day window from securing your date. It is crucial to complete both portions of the booking process, otherwise your date will potentially go to the next client in line on the waitlist.

Photo Courtesy of Aryanna Johnson Photography

Top-Notch Customer Service

Along with safety and sanitation, your satisfaction is at the very top of my priority list. I pride myself on almost 50 five-star reviews on my Facebook business, and countless private messages and emails from my clients thanking me for working with them. Making your appointment special is so very important to me, and I cannot stress enough that I will go above and beyond to make sure you feel great about your makeup look, but also your overall experience. I take special care to ensure I am responding to emails within the appropriate amount of time, and that I am available for any questions you may have. I also pride myself on open communication and welcome all feedback, good and bad. I often joke that my only rule is that you let me know if you don’t like something, that way I can fix it right away! While I can happily say that I have very seldom received negative feedback, I want my clients to always know that they can feel comfortable letting me know if they’ve been pushed too far out of their comfort zone with a makeup look or technique, your appointment is all about you and I want you to feel beautiful! Shadow too dark? Let me know and we can blend it out until you feel comfortable again. Art is subjective and what I think looks amazing may be too much for the occasion so take solstice in knowing that you can always voice your opinion.

Truly, I will stop at nothing to guarantee you have the best experience working with Makeup Artistry with Ashley Marie. I set out to build my company and my brand on the same standards that I expect to be greeted with when working with other vendors, customer service reps, and industry pros. Building a brand that you can trust entirely, and a company that you know you can count on are the reasons that I do what I do. I truly cannot thank you enough for your interest in working with me, and I cannot wait to be a part of your special day! Please feel free to fill out my contact information form (link here), or send me an email at I do service the greater part of Minnesota and North Dakota, but I will happily travel for your special event. I can’t wait to work with you!

Photo Courtesy of Bella Solle Photography

Vendor Spotlight: KNZ Photography -McKenzie Berquam-

This week I have the honor of introducing you to McKenzie Berquam of KNZ Photography and KNZ Bareluxe! I have been granted the pleasure of working with her for a boudoir ambassadors shoot for her brand, and I have to say it was a great experience! McKenzie’s attention to detail and caring for her clients shines through in both her personality, and in her work. If you are searching for a boudoir or wedding photographer, please consider working with her. You will not be sorry!

Below, you will find a brief Question and Answer session with McKenzie as she talks about her photography brand and her passion. After reading through everything, please feel free to follow her on social media and connect about your personal event!

Q: Which services does your company offer for wedding clients?
McKenzie: I currently offer photography and am working on growing a videography side to my business.

Q: Do you serve any other events outside of weddings?
McKenzie: I typically only offer photography for boudoir, couples, and weddings but extend sessions out to anyone else when I offer mini sessions!

Q: What are 3 questions that each and every potential bridal client should be asking when booking a professional in your area of expertise for their big day?
McKenzie: These can all be taken into much more detail, but in short: 
1. Are we a good fit?
2. Can you provide what I need?
3. How does this work? 

Q: If a potential client asked you the three questions above, how would you respond on behalf of your business?
1. I would recommend hopping on a call or video chat to be able to actually learn about each other and see if our vibes are aligned.
2. In the call or via email I ask what all they are wanting included in their wedding photography and then either send them the collections that match their needs, or create a personalized collection for them!
3. I have an entire client guide laying out who I am, what I do, how sessions work, how booking works, as well as frequently asked questions. Most couples don’t know half of the things photographers think are normal details, so I am happy to educate them and help them know exactly what is going on / what they are getting.

Q: How should a bride and groom be preparing for their first meeting with someone from your area of the industry?
McKenzie: They should come with any questions they have but this isn’t required. I try to answer unasked questions anyway and make myself available to answer anything along the way. The biggest question they should bring is: “What makes you different from all the other photographers?” 

Q: What advice do you offer each client as they are searching for a vendor in your area?
McKenzie: I would say it’s most important to book with someone you connect with because wedding photographers are with you pretty much your entire wedding day. Find someone who you get along great with and who shows a cohesive style of editing that you love.

Q: What trends are you most excited about for the 2020 wedding season?
McKenzie: Bold colors and throwing out all the traditional wedding day events.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into this industry? 
McKenzie: I bought a camera a few years ago when my niece was born because I wanted to take nice pictures of her. It kind of blossomed without me planning for it to and I started booking clients. Over time I found my groove for weddings and love where I am going with it now!

Q: What should every potential bridal client know about you and your business?
McKenzie: I am extremely passionate and vulnerable about what I do. I will do everything I can to make my couples happy and make sure they are able to enjoy their day and look back and remember the beauty of it! I also love to dance so a wild dance floor is my favorite place to be!

Mini Bio:
McKenzie: The thing that sets me apart from other wedding photographers is that I offer more than wedding photography. I will help during your wedding day with any and all details that need to be completed or figured out. I love becoming friends with parents or grandparents and pride myself in the responses I get from them in my email the following weeks after a wedding. I am so passionate about helping people and making people happy, so it applies to way more than just the photos. 

Q: Finally, are you on social media? Where can they find you to connect?
Twitter: N/A

Q: What is the best way for a potential client to get in contact?

Tips for Communicating with Your Vendors

Planning for a wedding or other special event can be – well, pretty overwhelming at times! If we are honest with ourselves, even the most organized person can start to crumble if they feel overwhelmed in the amount of information they are receiving, whether this be at work, at home, or even planning your wedding day. Below I have compiled just a few tips to assist in making your planning and communication process a little bit easier – or at the very least – much more streamlined for you!

  1. Emails – Please, please, please do your best to stay on top of vendor emails. As someone who works in the self employment and entrepreneurship world, I can tell you that there is a bit of a misconception that your vendors are available 24/7 and at the drop of a hat. For me, I am terrible about instituting office hours for my clients, and I will likely respond the same day that you send me an inquiry as I know the competitive nature of the bridal industry, and I understand that brides begin their wedding search for professionals almost instantaneously from the date of the engagement (sometimes this is 6-14 months before the wedding). But, with that being said, appointments fill up quickly. Many vendors accept only one event per date, and with an unlimited amount of brides, and a finite amount of vendors, you can understand just how quickly dates can fill up. Always be prompt with correspondence. I cannot tell you how many times I have a bride that connects and forgets to reach out right away, a few months later she will reconnect to officially book and the date will be filled by another client, stay on top of your emails because it will make your life much easier!
  2. Emails (again) – Please be sure to follow-up with your vendors. As mentioned above, dates fill up rather quickly for weddings and other events, so if you should receive rates from your wedding pro, and decide due to travel fee (as an example) this vendor is beyond your budget’s reach, let the vendor know that you appreciate their time but you will be moving forward with a different vendor at this time. As a vendor, it is absolutely a bummer to receive a note like this but it’s all part of doing business and we greatly appreciate the time you took to follow-up! This also ensures that another client can be given the opportunity to book that date, and the vendor is not waiting on your decision. Again, the market is competitive and chances are there is a waitlist of other clients waiting on their date. I know my booking process is first come, first serve. And unless a client books with a signed contract, paid deposit, and list of clients that meets my minimum service requirement for hair and makeup, the date is not secure and it goes to the next bride that does complete this criteria. I know this sounds a little cut-throat, and I am always super accommodating for my clients, so while MANY vendors have a policy such as this in place, we are usually happy to help you with a whatever your needs may be. Be open with where you are in the planning process and we will happily help.
  3. Contracts – Always get a contract, never just take it on good faith that your vendor can deliver everything you ever dreamed of simply because he/she said so. Contracts are important because it lays out your expectations as a consumer, and the vendor’s expectations as a service provider. READ THE FINE PRINT. Some vendors have punctuality clauses, parking and additional travel fees if their is a parking ramp or other necessary parking, the list can go on. So to save yourself and the vendor an awkward conversation about the $30 parking meter – always read the fine print. It saves both of you some undo confusion.
  4. Emails (yup, once again) – Email is the absolute best way to communicate with your vendor. Many vendors have rather informal policies for communication, but from experience, go with emails. Utilizing a professional email thread ensures that you can always refer back to any information that may be unclear – say you cannot remember what time you discussed your photographer arriving on-site – if you have corresponded solely with email, this will make sorting out the information much easier than digging through old texts and Facebook messages or DMs on Instagram. Trust me, email is best. Even when I chat on the phone with my clients, I send over a synopsis of the phone conversation to ensure that we are both on the same page with everything that was discussed as it is SO EASY to forget a few small details. We are all human, so moral of the story – make your life easier, and make the vendor’s life easier – always opt for the email.
  5. Ask Questions – Always ask questions. Drawing assumptions about what you infer a policy to be, or you assume that a vendor will be able to supply an item creates confusion and undue stress for yourself. For myself, I love working with vendors that are clear communicators and are able to lay out (very clearly) any needed information when addressed with a question. However, I caution you to be very professional when approaching questions and polite. As a small business owner, I always think to myself “If I received this email as a vendor, how would I infer the tone and message? Would I find the message offensive and struggle with how to respond?” Much like any other customer service interaction, remember that the person you are questioning about a policy is just that, a person. So I always recommend reading your email twice before pressing send – this may sound silly but because you cannot communicate tone within a print image or text, it’s always best to never leave room to “Read between the lines” so to speak. Plus, it’s easy to take things personally as a client, but also as a vendor. Remember, if you ask a question and I vendor says that he/she apologizes, but that is not included in the package – don’t take it personally – it’s just a policy. Conversely, I also have to remind myself (as do other vendors in the industry) that when a client asks a question, I too cannot take it too personally. For many brides, this is their first and only wedding, so the booking processes are brand-new. As a vendor, lets all use that same advice and read the email atleast twice before pressing send.
  6. Grammar and Spell Check – This goes out to the clients and vendors – HAHA. Little known fact about me, but I have a phobia of sending out an ill-composed booking and information email. I know, this sounds silly, but I also know that as a consumer I respect professionals that take the time to use punctuation, spell check, and grammar. So as a vendor, I hold myself to that same standard that I would expect as a consumer. The same goes as a vendor, I love when a client takes the time to use proper spelling and carefully crafts their emails. This will ensure that the vendor (and the client) feel great about the business transaction that is about to take place, and in-turn the client-servicer relationship will be strengthened. Trust me, a little spell check goes a long way!
  7. Addressing the Vendor and Crafting Your Emails – I am an over communicator. I have a tendency to tell a story about grabbing coffee that results in a brief interjection about how my dog likes to play in the snow, and then return back to the story about getting coffee. Guys, we are all so very guilty of this quirk from time to time – and once you work with me for your trial you will see that I love to tell you stories and entertain you. However, while it’s totally fine to chat and giggle, and get lost in the conversation when chatting face to face, take extra care to craft your vendor emails to address any questions that you have. I personally enjoy when clients send a bullet list of what they are wondering, this makes it easy to respond to each question, comment, concern directly and leaves no room for confusion. Do yourself a favor and write down (on a sticky note or other scratch paper) what questions you have before crafting the email, then when you are rereading it for tone and spelling (see what I did there? 😉 ) also check off the questions that you wrote down as you find them in the body of the email, this ensures all of your questions will get answered. Also, a reminder that you are taking to a person, so addressing the vendor and introducing yourself (especially when you are first connecting) is wonderful. If your email address is “” and the first message sent is “Hey, how much do you charge for wedding pictures?” the vendor will probably have to take a moment to distinguish if you are a person or spam bot. Instead, I suggest using verbiage such as “Hello Carmen! I found you via (social media/website/etc.) and I love your photography style. My name is Shelly and I am getting married February 26th, 2021 and I was hoping you could send me your pricing and package details for wedding photography, we will be getting married in Duluth MN. (Also insert any other details you find pertinent.) Thank you, Shelly (with phone number and email address)” This clearly lays out what information you are seeking, and it helps the vendor feel good about your correspondence and with you so that they can give you the most thorough information with regard to your event.

Finally, be you! When you are communicating with a vendor, be yourself. Take time to carefully craft your message and use thoughtfulness, but let yourself sparkle and shine! Vendors want to know your love story, or the story of the event we are working with you on. Share away! Maybe you are planning a weekend retreat for your closest gal pals and want to hire a caterer, we as vendors love to know the backstory that you’ve been getting mimosas by the lake for the past 7 years during the third weekend of July simply to reconnect and recharge – we love hearing that your high school sweetheart proposed after eight years under the stars where you went to your first football game. We are in the vendor market because we love YOU. Your day, the way we tailor our services, the vision you have, it’s about you and we are so blessed and proud you have selected us to be part of your day so share your story and what makes you unique! We love that, truly!

I hope you have found this little blog post helpful or insightful, and I truly hope it helps you in composing correspondence with your vendors for whatever occasion it may be. Planning an event for the first time, especially trusting someone that you have not previously worked with, can be a little nerve racking, but rest assured that we are here to guide you every step of the way, and help make your event so successful! Best of luck securing those vendors, and I will see you in the next post!

Faux Lashes: Why You Need Them for Wedding Day

Happy National Lash Day! In honor of this wonderful holiday, I wanted to write a brief post about some benefits of wearing faux lashes for your wedding day or other special event! Okay, I may be a little biased, but keep reading to find out more!

First and foremost, why should you wear lashes for your wedding day or other special event? Honestly, you have made the investment into finding the perfect photographer, you’ve splurged on the perfect dress, and even have opted to get professional makeup done – think of your lashes as the icing on top of a delicious chocolate cake. If you have selected an artist that holds themselves to a high level of quality and accepts only the best standards, take comfort knowing that your artist has carefully selected which faux lashes will be best for you. It is so important to choose something that has a strong fiber to ensure that the lashes hold their shape and curl, but some fibers can create a plastic-esque appearance to the lash strip – you do not want this. Your wedding day or corporate headshots, really whatever the occasion may be, are not a time for fake lashes that look… well, fake. If you opt to pick up a set of lashes from your local drugstore, do your homework first or you may find that you do not have the best experience… And please do not pick up the magnetic ones. While I am a little biased, and every set I have ever used become a mess by the end of the day, there is potential that lash technology could continue to increase, but in my professional opinion, opt for traditional falsies or lash extensions. The false lashes that I use have a soft and pliable lash and they mimic the appearance of those lashes that God gave you, but I enjoy using them because they add length and volume.

Next, consider the concept of framing a photograph or priceless painting. You wouldn’t hang a picture on the wall without selecting some sort of a frame, right? The same goes for your makeup. After your artist has carefully blended your eyeshadow and added a soft liner to emphasis the lash base, sometimes applying mascara alone can leave you looking a bit unfinished. False lashes help to give the eye a natural frame effect, and they make your eyes pop in all of your professional photos! In addition to all of that, so many of my clients express that their eyes are their fiancé/husband/significant other’s favorite feature – why not call a little extra attention to that area of the face and really bring the look together? Skipping lashes actually looks a little unfinished, and while it may not be as noticeable in person, when you get your professional photos back, it’s one of the things you will definitely notice.

Let’s also talk about mascara. Please, please, please… do not skip out on using mascara when you wear faux lashes. As someone who has naturally blonde lashes, if I opt for false lashes and skip out on the mascara they look even more fake. Many artists suggest using mascara prior to applying the lashes, I actually prefer applying mascara a little backwards from that school of thought. I like to apply a light coating for mascara AFTER applying the lashes to blend the natural lash and falsies together, but also by waiting I have found that the mascara clumps much less and is actually easier to remove at the end of the night because I have used less mascara than if I were to use it alone. The mascara that I use varies, but it is most often Tarte (Lights, Camera, Splashes) or Tarte (Maneater) as both are waterproof and never move, but they also do not get terribly crisp or uncomfortable.

Now, which lashes do I use and what makes an experience with me unique? For my generic faux lashes, I use a combination of lashes from both Eyelure and Ardell. I have found that these false lashes hold up to a full day of wear, and they hold your lash curl like a dream. In addition to that, I understand that being a bridesmaid can get expensive quickly with the cost of travel for your flight and hotel, your dress and accessories, hair and makeup, the gifts, and the other items that add up – by offering these two brands to my clients, I have been able to keep the cost to the client relatively low and still offer a fantastic product for each member of the bridal party and never compromise a great experience for the gal pals! Generally I carry 2-3 styles of lashes with me in my kit for the bridal party to select from – this puts the choice and option back into the hands of the client. These lashes are also the lashes that I automatically build into my packages for private clients as well for senior photos and headshots or boudoir.

For the bride, I wanted the experience to be even more special and for her to be able to take something home with her from the appointment. Because of this, each of my brides are gifted a set of high-quality faux mink lashes, by my favorite indie lash brand – LashMeUpGirl (link here)! I took the guess work out of which lashes to select for the bridal client, and I have opted to build these lashes directly into my premium bridal package. With the option to reuse up to 25 times with proper care, these lashes are honestly my favorite to use for that special event and take with you on the honeymoon! Easy to use yourself, I also take the guess work out of trimming and shaping them to your lash line and prepare them for subsequent uses – they even come with an amazing little lash box to keep them clean and safe while you travel. I also offer these lashes as an uncharge for the bridal party or other private clients, this is something new that I am offering for 2020 and all of my clients have absolutely loved them so far. For these lashes, I offer a choice of 3 beautiful and soft styles to give options, but never overwhelm the client with too many choices.

Finally, your perfect lash adhesive. Let me just start by saying that traditional lash adhesive smells like chemicals, paint thinner, and blindness… If you know me, you know I’m all about cleaner and safer beauty products, so I do not use traditional lash adhesive such as Duo (which many artists do carry and love within their kits). Instead, I have selected to swap out my lash adhesive for a more expensive, yet much safer adhesive from one of my favorite brands – Tarte. This lash adhesive has become my personal favorite because as someone who runs into issues with the sensitivities myself, the fact that this lash adhesive works well and doesn’t use latex or some of the other harmful chemicals makes a world of difference to me. Available in two colors (clear or black) I like to opt for the clear adhesive as it dries matte, and if you would like to wear lashes but skip the liner, it looks fantastic!

So again, why wear lashes on your special day? Because it is your special day. The shift that I see between when I give the client the mirror with a full face of makeup before and after lash application is clearly visible. There is something empowering and exciting that my clients feel once the full look has been pulled together, and truly I feel like lashes give you that extra bounce in your step that you may feel like you are missing. Truly, if you are on the fence about upcharging to faux lashes with your hired beauty pro, go for it and I promise you will not regret it at all!

Blush, Bronze, & Highlight: Why You Should Be Using It Everyday

Blush, Bronzer, and Highlight, what do I have to say about them? Honestly, I love them! They are truly some of my favorite things ever when it comes to cosmetics. Foundation and concealer do such a great job to cancel out any discoloration or uneven skin tone BUT… it also does a tremendous job of canceling out any “flush” or natural blush to the cheek, and may result in looking two-dimensional or almost plastic. That is not what you want on your wedding day, and certainly not what you want on a day to day basis at the office!

First off, let’s chat about blush placement. I love to apply blush to the apples of the cheeks and then buff up and out. This is dependent on client, face shape, etc. but by concentrating the color beneath the eye on the apple of the cheek, and then buffing up and out towards the hair line and temple. This builds the cheek bone and gives a naturally lifted appearance to the cheek. I also buff the blush into the bronzer so that you cannot tell where the blush starts, and where it stops. This is so important because you never want to look like you took a scoop of neapolitan ice cream and streaked it across your cheek. BLEND, BLEND, BLEND! In addition to applying blush to the cheeks, I like to create a beautiful and flushed look overall, so I like to buff a tiny bit of blush across the center of the nose as well to create a naturally flushed look and ensure that the highlight and contour is never too stark of a contrast.

Next, which blushes do I use? I love powder stains. Generally speaking, throughout the day blush is usually the first thing to disappear from your makeup look. To combat that, I take specific steps such as priming the foundation to lengthen overall makeup life, and then following up with setting powders and setting sprays. But the most important step I take when using blush is to ensure I use a formula with a staining effect. By using a cheek stain, it ensures a long wear finish and an all day long soft flushed look. Trust me, cheek stains are a game changer! The blush stains that I use are actually powders, and I thoroughly enjoy the formulations from both Beautycounter (link here) and Tarte (link here). Both formulations are heavily pigmented and offer so much color pay-off. Be careful though, it is easy to go a little too heavy handed with the products but fear not, it is easy to blend the blushes in if you use circular sweeping motions within the first 30 seconds – one minute.

Blush is super important to bringing your look to life, but you always should be incorporating a bronzer and highlight as well. I like to use a bronzer with a terra-cotta undertone, but more bronze than orange. This assists in creating a sun kissed glow and soft dimension, but be careful not to use anything too red or orange, as it will create an unnatural coloring to the skin. Two of my favorite bronzers are the Beautycounter Radiant All Over Bronzer in shades Dune and Cabana (link here) or if you are searching for something without any shimmer, I really enjoy the Tarte Park Avenue Princess Bronzer (link here). When applying the bronzer, you should sweep along the hair line, on the cheeks, and under the jaw – then also bring it down the bridge of the nose. Mimic the shape of a three and an “E” along the perimeter of the face. Please do not confuse bronzer with contour, that’s a lesson for another time!

For highlight, the soft highlighter that I use for myself on a daily basis is the Beautycounter Luminous Powder Highlighter in shade Halo (link here). I really enjoy the soft rose gold undertone, as it creates a natural glow and warmth to the skin – but it isn’t a chunky and unnatural highlight for daily use. If you do invest in this highlighter, do take care to tap the natural fiber brush into the powder gently as it is a very soft powder and can crumble a bit if you are too aggressive with your brush. The highlighter that I use on most of my clients is actually the Sundipped Glow Kit from Anastasia Beverly Hills (link here). I enjoy the Sundipped Glow Kit for my bridal and private clients because it has 4 different shades that I use to customize the highlight for each of my clients. This is a great option if you are someone that loves a natural highlight but enjoys variety. Be sure to apply the highlight to the high points of your face – along the center of the nose and then upon the tops of the cheeks.

Above are just a few of my favorites when it comes to creating soft dimension for special occasions or on your day-to-day basis. Let me know if you have tried these and what you thought! I have had fantastic luck using these on my fair to medium complected clients, but if you are someone that has deeper skin tone, feel free to use the darker shades in the glow kit, and opt for a more apricot bronzer to give warmth to the skin. You will love the result! Each of the products above will work wonderfully, we will just have to find a deeper shade (than listed above) for you but I would LOVE to help! I’ll see you in the next blog!

Airbrush – Is it suitable for all skin types!?

Airbrush – the number one question I get asked by ALL potential clients is whether or not I offer airbrush. The answer is yes, one-hundred percent yes! It took me a while to jump on board with airbrush makeup, and I think a majority of that reasoning is attributed to me being a control freak – plain and simple. As an artist, I love creating a smooth and even base with foundation – careful to cancel out any discoloration and texture, and then going back in with my different brushes and painting dimension back onto the beautiful canvas that is my client’s face. You can understand my skepticism and confusion about the efficacy of airbrush as I am someone that hates change (LOL) – guys I carried a duct-taped cell phone for months because I didn’t want a bigger phone when I upgraded so I really struggle with change. But, like any small business owner, I took the necessary steps to invest in my craft and my business and I made the leap to buy an airbrush system, practiced for countless hours on many ages and complexions, and I now have mastered the art of bridal beauty with airbrush! And boy am I glad that I did!

All jokes about my stubbornness aside, you probably have guessed that we are going to chat about WHO and WHEN airbrush is most suitable for my clients. After getting over my initial skepticism – I have to say that I love using my Temptu Airbrush System for all special occasions and on just about any client! I love how light and weightless the products feel on your skin, and I am in disbelief and shock about how incredibly well the products wear. Again, don’t get me wrong – my traditional products wear super well and offer hours of budge-proof beauty. BUT the airbrush products that I use boasts a claim of 16+ hour wear, and they are not kidding!

Many of my bridal parties or other clients get ready for their special events rather early in the morning, sometimes starting at 7am. I have not had a single client dispute the long-wear claim! On wedding day, or maybe for a big performance, the last thing you want to worry about is lugging around a touchup kit the size of Mary Poppin’s bag, and with airbrush you really shouldn’t have to! The high level of pigment and liquid consistency offer customizable coverage that can camouflage years of sun damage and discoloration or showcase the beautiful angel kisses that make you, you! Truly, I cannot say enough good things about the airbrush products that I use! I love that they are even gluten-free as many people overlook the potential for a reaction caused by a dietary allergy simply from something in your makeup.

Now who should be using airbrush? Many clients have told me that they’ve been instructed not to use airbrush products if they have “more mature” skin. While I can see potential concerns with this, I personally have not ran into any issues so far. I actually love how airbrush looks on both, youthful and more mature skin. The application method is smooth, continuous, and almost untraceable and it truly just glides onto the skin from the airbrush gun. If someone is rather inexperienced, I could see issues where the airbrush finish may be uneven or patchy – but that is an issue of the artist’s style and lack of the appropriate primer – not the product itself. Now again, I am only able to chat about my experience with Temptu products, and there is certainly potential that other airbrush formulations may not work for everyone – please keep this in mind.

I also love to use airbrush on my brides, or even clients getting senior photos taken! The airbrush products create a flawless finish to the skin, and the dry down on the formulation that I use mimics a skin and lifelike finish which assists in ensuring you feel your best. Because of this, and the way that I apply the products, the makeup always looks age appropriate and natural – which is a huge goal of mine – never altering what the client actually looks like!

Now, while airbrush works like magic on most of my clients – let’s not negate the importance of appropriate and effective skin care! I have seen issues arise with clients who do not properly exfoliate and moisturize their skin. When applying airbrush products, and any other cosmetics to skin that is not cared for properly can/will result in the product clinging and collecting on the face which creates an undesirable effect in photos and real life. So with that being said, this group of potential clients may struggle with airbrush or traditional products alike, and for that reason, I have made it my mission to educate all of my customers on skincare.

So the moral of the story? When applied appropriately, airbrush is perfect for just about all of my clients and I recommend it to absolutely everyone! Regardless of age, race, etc. airbrush is by far the most versatile product I have in my kit and you DO want to use it for your wedding or other special event!

The Gang’s All Here: A Guide to My Current Skincare Favorites – Moisturizers

Alright, so thankfully you have stayed tune so far about my skincare favorites so I’m excited to share with you the final steps to making my skin perfect – the proper moisturizers. If you’ve had access to my beauty prep guide, you know just how strongly I feel about daytime and night time moisturizers and why you need both. In addition to that, no skin care regimen is complete without an eye cream that fits your specific needs!

Below I will go over what moisturizers I am currently using, how and when I apply them, and why I love them! As usual, there will also be shop-able links below to take you directly to my skincare favorites. If you missed out on my first two posts about my favorite cleansers (link here) and skincare treatments (link here), please follow the links provided and give them a look as well!

Beautycounter – Adaptive Moisture Lotion (link here)

Oil free moisturizer. Learn about it, use it, love it. Seriously – everyone needs a high quality, safe, oil free moisturizer. I have grown to really enjoy the Adaptive Moisture Lotion from Beautycounter, and in addition to using it on myself, I also use it on almost all of my customers! First and foremost, I love this moisturizer because it truly adapts to what your skin needs and gives you the hydration that your skin thirsts for. It layers beautifully underneath primer and foundation, and never leaves me feeling greasy or muddy.

I prefer to use this moisturizer during the day, after my oils and serums to lock in all of the benefits of those products. I will take one and a half pumps of moisturizer and slowly work it into the skin. Again, similar to how I apply my oils and serums, I like to use small and gentle circles and then long sweeping motions upward to help combat the effects of gravity and aging.

Beautycounter – Recovery Sleeping Cream (link here)

Night time moisturizers are an amazing step to have in your skincare routine – and yes, yes you do need them. Most night time moisturizers take advantage of the skin’s natural sleep cycle to assist in repairing the skin. I like to use the Recovery Sleeping Cream from Beautycounter as a final step to lock in all of the hydration and nutrients from your skincare treatments and push the benefits beneath the skin’s surface for maximum results. I love the creamier texture of this moisturizer and the advanced hydration that it offers.

I use this moisturizer, exclusively in the evenings over all of my oils and serums, and I apply it everywhere except within the orbital bone. I will take one and a half pumps (from the airtight container) and gently massage the moisturizer into my skin. Same as with any of my facial skincare steps, I use small circular motions and then long upward strokes to massage the product thoroughly into your face’s skin.

Beautycounter – Eye Rescue Cream (link here)

Eye cream is so crucial to ensuring that your skin is at optimal health. The skin beneath your eyes is essentially only 40% as thick as the rest of your face – and this is why you should NEVER put anything formulated for your face within the area around your eye (inside of the orbital bone). I have been blessed with avoiding the advanced signs of aging so far, and because of this I like to focus on using a basic eye cream that hydrates extremely well but isn’t too heavy or greasy. For these reasons, I love the Eye Rescue Cream from Beautycounter!

I like to take one half to one full pump on the back of my left hand, and then dip into it gently with my right ring finger to load my finger with product. Next, I apply just about one half of the product from my hand to the area under neath my eye using a gentle tapping technique with my right ring finger. Always use your ring finger as it will apply the smallest amount of pressure, which ensures that you will not pull, tug, or amplify any aging. Repeat the steps under the other eye. Any excess product left on the back of my hand, I like to gently tap into my smile lines to hydrate and help plump them.

Once again, the recommendations above are products that work well for myself, and many of my clients. There is always potential that you may have a predisposition of allergies to a certain ingredient – so always screen your product’s ingredient list for any of your known allergies. I truly hope you have found these product suggestions helpful, and if you are like me – someone with sensitive and combination skin – I think that you could also benefit from these great products!

The Gang’s All Here: A Guide to My Current Skincare Favorites – Treatments

The basic steps of a great skincare regimen are cleanse, treat, moisturize, and repeat. In my first post (linked here) I briefly touch on my top three cleansers that I am currently using and how I like to use each one. If you haven’t perused that blog, please head over and read it now because your treatment steps will not work to the best of their capabilities if you have not properly cleansed your skin of any impurities or debris.

Today, we jump into the second set of skincare steps – the treatments. Again, by cleansing our face thoroughly and safely, we will be able to reap better benefits from our treatment options, and then lock in those benefits with some high quality moisturizer (my favorites will be listed in a following post).

CLNandDRTY – The Rose Toner (link here)

For years and years, I have been a faithful user of the Clinique Clarifying Lotion as my toning step to remove additional debris that cleanser might’ve missed and I have happily out up with the strange and dry tingle, being instructed as a Clinique consultant that this “tight” and “dry” feeling is normal – and that this is how a toner should always feel. Yet, over the years – as I age (I’m 27 now) – my skin continues to get even more dry and uncomfortable. And I’m increasingly baffled why a product that is supposed to be nourishing and caring leaves me feeling even more dry before I moisturize. So when Paula (of CLNandDRTY) sent me this Rose Toner to try, I was a skeptic. Conditioned to believe that all toners MUST feel like an astringent. The Rose Toner has changed my beauty routine. Seriously.

While applying just a few drops to a cotton round and sweeping over the skin still give me that clean feeling that I love in a toner, no longer do I feel like like my skin is a cracked desert or as though I have pushed myself even further into dehydration. Truly, the Rose Toner preps my skin for the following treatments and moisturizing products, but it also just returns my skin back to its natural base line after removing any extra debris without any of the irritation I’ve grown used to. I use this toner morning and night, after my Exfoliating Cleansing Stick and before I add my oils and serums. A tiny bit goes a long way!

Again, don’t forget to use my discount code (not a commission code) when shopping with CLNandDRTY, by using code “ASHLEY20” at checkout you will receive 20% off all full-priced goodies!

Beautycounter – Overnight Resurfacing Peel (link here)

I am a traditional physical exfoliant gal – and the peel has changed my view point on things. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Exfoliating Cleanser that I mentioned in my previous post and it has leveled up my skincare! However, I love the Overnight Resurfacing Peel so much, I can tell when I’ve been lazy with skincare and skipped this step because it lacks the luminosity and smoothness that I crave.

After sweeping the Rose Toner over my skin, I will apply one and a half pumps of the peel to my face. Always careful to avoid any area located within the orbital bones, I gently massage a smooth and even layer over the full face. Next, I let it sit for 2-4 minutes. Generally I will floss and brush my teeth during this period of time, because you want the product to soak into the skin and dissipate before you apply any serums or oils for maximum results. I only use this step at night, and the recommended use is every other night… but I cheat and use it nightly and love the effect. DO NOT FOLLOW MY LEAD ON NIGHTLY if you have never used this product before! Follow the directions completely.

CLNandDRTY – Luxury Anti-Aging Oil for Combination Skin (link here)

Until the past year, oils in skincare have frightened me because again, I’m a creature of habit. Using the Plumping (link here) and Brightening (link here) oils by Beautycounter have opened me up to a world of benefits and possibilities! When Paula (again, the awesome owner of CLNandDRTY) sent me their luxury anti-aging face oil to try I was super intrigued! And let me tell you, it works just as well as my oils from Beautycounter – plus there’s the added benefit of supporting an awesome indie company – so I’ll be implementing this in my regimen for the long haul!

What I like to do is use the luxury anti-aging oil after the toner in the morning, or after the peel in the evenings! I’ll take 3-4 baby drops in the palm of my hand and smooth it over my skin (again, avoiding the area within the orbital bone). I like to give myself just a minute or two to allow the oils to absorb, and then dependent on the time of day (and dryness level of my skin) I follow It up with the appropriate serum or moisturizer.

Once more, don’t forget to use my discount code (this is not a commission code) when shopping with CLNandDRTY, if you use code “ASHLEY20” at checkout you will receive 20% off all full-priced goodies!

Beautycounter – Intense Moisture Serum (link here)

Generally, the oil and moisturizer offer enough hydration for me on a daily basis BUT there are times when it is excessively cold and dry out that my skin still seeks extra moisture – for those days I like to layer the Intense Moisture Serum as well. This light and milky textured serum offers a kiss of hydration for your skin beyond the basics. I use less than half of a dime-sized droplet to cover my skin in an even and smooth layer. I will gently work the serum onto the skin in small circular motions and long (upward) sweeping motions to help defy gravity. I use this morning and/or night – whenever I feel extra dehydrated, but I find that I like to use it more in the evenings, just out of personal preference.

Again, the treatments above are items I use on a daily basis – and I have noticed my skin looking more supple, radiant, bright, and far more smooth. If you are looking to restore that natural and youthful glow into your skin, I really recommend implementing these goodies into your current skin care routine. As stated in my cleanser post, these products are safe, effective, and healthy for you to use but there is a chance you may react to a specific ingredient if you have predisposed allergy to it, always review the ingredients list thoroughly if you know of a specific allergy.

Now that you’ve effectively cleansed, and you have treated the skin to ensure optimal results – head over to my blog post about moisturizer (link here) to find out about my favorite day and night moisturizers, and what eye cream I currently cannot live without!

The Gang’s All Here: A Guide to My Current Skincare Favorites – Cleansers

I will be honest, I was actually quite surprised by the overwhelming response from many of you that were curious about what my current skincare favorites are. As someone who lives life behind the makeup brush, and focuses on enhancing other’s beauty and putting them in the lime light, I honestly wasn’t sure if you guys would be that interested! However, I put it out into the universe – and here we are!

I like to think of myself as a minimalist, someone that is pretty low maintenance in my daily life. Sure, I love to get glammed up from time to time (for a very special occasion), but a majority of my time is spent makeup free – with the exception of brows and a soft mascara. Now, if you looked at my bathroom counter, you wouldn’t believe my minimalist approach to things. The reason I am able to go out of the house with little to no makeup is because of how intricately I care for my skin! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times… your makeup will only look as good as the skin you are applying it to, so you better start with proper skincare. Below I will go over all of the cleansing products in my arsenal, I will give you a direct link to shop them, and also go over how and when I currently use them. If you have questions, feel free to drop me an email or comment below and I’d love to answer any questions you may have!


First things first, my favorite cleansers. It is so incredibly important to ensure that you are removing any dirt, debris, makeup, or other environmental chaos from the surface of your skin, but also your pores. There are three cleansers that I have been using regularly and I feel like this has tremendously helped.

Beautycounter – Countermatch Pure Calm Cleansing Milk (link here).

When I purchased the Countermatch collection from Beautycounter, I’ll be honest… I didn’t like the cleansing milk. At all. I am someone who really enjoys the slip and suds associated with a gel cleanser, and past products that I’ve used have the ability to trick me into believing that the better the suds, the better the clean. So using a cleansing milk left me bored, unimpressed, and just overall uninterested. In recent months, my skin has yet again shifted and I find myself becoming dryer and more sensitized than usual so I picked up one of the unopened bottles of Cleansing Milk (I have six… so I felt it was time to find a way to incorporate it into my regimen) and I began using it in place of my Clinique cleanser that I’ve been faithful to since 2012. The results? My skin felt more supple and less tight after just one week! However I still feel like it doesn’t do a great job by itself getting the longer makeup off, so I use it as a pre-cleanse step. Essentially I will dampen my skin with cool-lukewarm water, take the cleansing milk (two pumps after shaking), and gently wash my face to break up a day of makeup (or on makeup free days – prep my skin for my current favorite cleanser). I find that it works really well to bust through my setting sprays and powders and begin the process of removing my makeup. Once I have gently washed my face by moving the water and milk around my face in gentle circular motions, I will follow it up with a rinse of cool water to remove everything. Again, I feel like this works extremely well but in no way do I feel like it does everything I need it to do – so I follow it up with my second cleanser. I generally use the cleansing milk morning and night unless I am feeling very lazy and haven’t worn makeup the day before, then I might skip this pre cleanse step in the morning.

Could you get away with skipping this step? Probably. If cleansing milks are something that you don’t enjoy the texture of, or if you plan to use this alone and you wear very heavy makeup – I probably would skip this step and opt for the two below instead.

CLNandDRTY – The New Romantic: Exfoliating Rose Cleansing Stick (link here)

The New Romantic: Exfoliating Rose Cleansing Stick is completely out of my comfort zone, and if Paula and the awesome gals at CLNandDRTY wouldn’t have sent this to me to give it a whirl, I probably would not have discovered it and still be in my cleanser rut. This cleanser has been a game changer and I’ve been using it for just one full week… That is HUGE. First off, if I haven’t worn makeup and I am feeling lazy, I will probably skip my pre cleanse step all together and jump right into using this little stick of magic. I feel really dorky saying that, but this is probably my favorite cleanser I have ever tried – ever, seriously. The cleansing stick application is something that I have had to get used to, and being a clean freak you know that I asked Paula about the potential for mold growth or bacteria by storing the stick with the lid, and she assured me that there is no danger of that at all. The way that I use this cleanser: I apply a small amount of lukewarm water all over my face, and then I take the cleansing stick and grip the tube very well around the bottom and begin using circular motions to gently scrub away the debris and makeup that might still be on my skin.

It is the strangest sensation in the world, but I love the way the cleanser glides across the skin without tugging at all, and then at the same time – baby jojoba beads exfoliate your skin without ripping or tugging. I like to give the pores around my nose (under my eyes on my cheeks, and across the bridge of my nose) a little extra TLC as I have huge pores, and already after one week I can tell that this cleanser has made a huge difference! Once I have thoroughly made my rounds on the face, I will gently rinse off the stick (leaving the cleanser on my face while doing this step to give it an extra few seconds to work it’s magic), and then dry the stick thoroughly and replace the cap. I like to do this step with the cleanser still on my face because those few extra seconds help my skin to feel even more refreshed and I feel like the cleanser penetrates my pores even better and pulls out the debris this way. Before rinsing, I take the thin layer of cleanser that is still on my face and continue to work it around my face in small circular motions with my fingers, and then follow it up with a good rinse from some cool-lukewarm water. Gently pat dry with a clean towel. As I mentioned above, this cleanser has already became a favorite in my regimen and I can tell that even though I was sent this for free to try, I will be repurchasing this whenever I run out! Another thing that’s cool? Paula has actually given me a discount code to share with you guys! No, this is not a commission code. Truly, if you use code “ASHLEY20” at the checkout, you will save 20% on any full-priced items (including the amazing cleansing stick) and I get to feel good that you purchased something that will level up your skincare! Simple as that.

Beautycounter – Counter+ Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm (link here)

The Cleansing Balm is again, something I have had to get used to. My first encounter with this product was when Krysten (the gal that got me hooked on Beautycounter) gave me a bag of goodies to try for a week to ensure that my skin didn’t react. My skin is so sensitive that I can usually tell after one use whether or not a product is going to be an issue, but before making the investment she was kind enough to loan me the Countermatch line and this cleansing balm. I’ll be honest, a cleansing balm is so completely out of my comfort zone that I didn’t like it. I hated how thick it felt, much like vaseline (because it is a balm, duh Ashley…). And I was confused by how something like this could make a difference in my regimen – so I used it once, decided I hated it (because I’m biased) – and never touched it again… until recently. With the weather in Minnesota and our winters being so darn dry and cold, yet we still have some form of humidity that is bone crunching and skin cracking – I remembered back to a conversation that I’d had with Krysten about the balm, and how she said that many people use this as diaper rash in a pinch, or that you can sleep in it as an overnight masque. So in the name of science, I gave it a whirl. And I actually found that I really enjoyed it! If I am wearing airbrush or waterproof makeup, this is the cleanser I reach for instead of the cleansing milk to take care of my precleanse step. It busts through the longwear and waterproof products, and helps to prep my skin for the cleansing stick step as well.

Another use for this guy is when I get my pesky eczema flare ups. Whether using it on my body to add a boost of needed hydration (much like my favorite eucerin cream that you won’t find me without), I will apply the smallest amount to my break out and work it gently into the skin. Usually within a few minutes my skin feels much softer and considerably less painful. If I get that same eczema breakout on my face, I’ll actually follow all of my skincare steps and then apply the cleansing balm over my moisturizer in that area and sleep in it. Seriously, a little goes a long way and I’m disappointed in myself for pressing snooze on this product for so long! – This product is not included in the photos as I am still just using a sample size because it lasts forever!

Again, the favorites listed above are MY favorites, and they work incredibly well for me. In no way am I saying that these products will work for every single person, as you may have an allergy to one of the ingredients, or maybe you just don’t like the texture or how it works for you – and that’s okay! But all of that being said, these products have made a huge shift in the clarity of my skin and they will definitely be in my arsenal for years to come!

Check out second part to this mini series – my favorite skincare treatment options –

Preparing For Your Perfect Wedding Day Lip

Matte or gloss, cream or liquid, chapstick or lip stain? Walking into Ulta can be OVERWHELMING for even the most seasoned professionals. I can tell you that when I walk into my local Ulta or Sephora, even I have an overwhelmed feeling that can cause me to be stressed out. I feel as though every month, the top brands are launching something new and innovative – so how does one sift through all of the options and make an educated decision on which lippie to go with for their wedding or other event. I recommend chatting with your beauty pro BEFORE making the trek into the store. Here’s why:

  1. You won’t know what color to use for your lips until you see the overall look of your bridal trial once you have finished up with your artist. Looking at Pinterest photos, scouring the internet for recommendations by beauty gurus, and then seeking advice from the gals or gentlemen at your beauty retailer will overwhelm you further. Take a breather, let the artist work their magic, and then go over color selections with your trusted pro. Your trial is your opportunity to try six colors if you want. No lipstick will look the same on YOU as it does on the photoshopped model online – undertones are so important.
  2. Consider the weather, and how your lips react during certain times of the year. If you are like me – the middle of the winter means seventeen layers of chapstick and never touching a matte lippie. BUT do your lips behave the same way year round? If you love the look of a beautiful matte lip and you are getting married in the middle of the summer, with proper prep you can make this matte lipped dream a reality. Try not to let your current situation confine your decision making. Chances are your artist will also have some great preparation ideas to share with you!
  3. Evaluate your water intake. I can always tell when I’ve treated my body poorly and not consumed enough water. If your water intake is low, your skin (and yes, even lips) will be drastically effected. This can mean dryness and flaking, lack of luster and glow, and an overall look of dehydration or cracking. Super unsightly and you will be so uncomfortable, this is why I recommend amping up your water intake in general, but especially close to your wedding date.
  4. Your artist just might be able to offer you some savings on your lip products. I personally have been fortunate enough to partner with CLNandDRTY and GunpowderNGloss to offer my customers a discount on the products that they purchase online.

My personal recommendations:

For lip prep, I love a great hydrating balm. One of my favorites is the Beautycounter Lip Conditioner in either Peppermint (link here) or Calendula (link here). If you have ever worked with me, chances are that I’ve used this amazing hydrating product on you! I am in love with the texture and moisturizing factor of this lip balm, and I try to make sure to apply this during the skincare prep section to ensure that the lips are hydrated and ready to go for whatever lip product we choose!

Another prep product that I suggest is the Peppermint Rosemary Lip Balm (link here) or the Cocoa Vanilla Balm (link here) by CLNandDRTY. Paula and her team have supplied me with a discount code (not a commission code in any way) to offer you 20% off of any of their full priced products. This brand is an amazing and indie company that is focused on putting safe and natural products into the hands of their consumers, while NEVER sacrificing quality or safety to make an extra dollar. Definitely check them out, especially because this awesome balm is purse-friendly, it is a great option on the go and don’t forget to use code “ASHLEY20” to save!

For a matte lipstick, I use the trusted and true Liquid Lipsticks (link here) from GunpowderNGloss! Within my kit, I carry 16 shades of this amazing product and I custom blend a lip color for each and every one of my clients! If you are interested in shopping this awesome (and locally owned indie brand), Chris has supplied a coupon code to save you 20% off of every cosmetic product on her site! This is NOT a commission code, simply an awesome opportunity for you to save big on some great gifts for you and your bridal party! Use code “ASHLEY20” at check out. GunpowderNGloss also has some awesome Mint and duo glosses that you should check out as well, I personally carry the shade “cute boots” in my purse and love the texture.

If clean beauty for lipstick and glosses are your jam and you are an avid supporter of Beautycounter like me, I also love the Color Intense Lipsticks (link here) and the Beautycounter Lip Glosses (link here) – which I use on EVERYONE as well. The pigmentation on the lipstick creams is so incredible that it truly competes with all of the other brands on the market. The glosses offer a hint of color and hours of hydration, if I’m not using the duo gloss by GunpowderNGloss, you can usually find me wearing shade “rosewood”. Seriously, they are so good.

To be honest, there are so many different products on the market that the options are endless. I’d be happy to chat with you about other products that I also carry in my kit, but truly, the products above are some amazing goodies that I suggest to everyone and use on each client I encounter. If you are going to make a trip to Ulta, take a friend and sort out the chaos together! I know that I do best when I have a friend, or other beauty pro, shopping with me and I think you will too!

Why You Should Book Your Beauty Pro Now

You’ve selected a date, found the perfect venue, booked the photographer and caterer of your dreams… the list goes on and on! Commonly, I find that hair and makeup services are the last items (or very close to the last items) to get booked for your amazing day. Girl, all I have to say is why!? As a makeup artist in the greater Central Minnesota region, most of my clients are incredible and organized, and they book well in advance of their special event. I have had quite a few clients reach out just days before their event, and while I am always so happy to accommodate this, there are some important reasons to consider booking as soon as possible. As professionals, we never want your makeup to be an after thought, or have you feel as though you were rushed through the booking and trial process. Here are some common reasons why I suggest booking your beauty services as soon as you fall in love with a makeup or hair artist.

First and foremost: Availability. Some beauty pros offer a full roster of makeup artists for your booking pleasure, however, many freelancers are a one man show. Take my beauty business for example, my clients hire me for my unique approach to makeup application, and they love my vision and style. You can give two artists the same products, an exact set of brushes, and identical twins, but the finished product will never be an exact replica. That is because makeup and hair are both art forms, and if you love someone’s style you want to book them quickly or someone else might. I can only speak for myself, but for October 10th, 2020 – I have already had to turn away 8 brides so far because I have a wedding party of 8 already booked.

Second: Your Trial Session. I cannot begin to express the importance of your beauty trial. For all of my brides, I do require a trial makeup application (and hair if applicable) because this is our opportunity to get to know each other, work out any discussion with the bride’s vision, and it gives us the opportunity to create a bond. While the wedding is so important, I put so much time, effort, and love into my trials as well because on wedding day, most artists do not have time for a do-over or complete change of vision. My trials average about an hour, but I block out two hours for you. We discuss skincare – what you are using, what is working and what isn’t, what you should try next, and how to properly implement it into your daily routine. I place such a big importance on skincare, and I am thorough in helping you find the best regimen for yourself. We discuss your vision and go through your Pinterest board, we touch on what is important to you and how we can mold and change things to find your unique eye or face shape. And finally, we get to know each other! I think I speak for the masses when I say that on my wedding day, I do not want some random artist showing up that I’ve never met before, this causes so much unneeded stress and you should never have to worry about that on your wedding day! By learning each other’s communication style during the trial, it creates an easy flow of energy for your wedding day!

Third: Travel Costs. Wedding season is usually peak travel season as well – especially in Minnesota! All of my Brainerd, Alexandria, and North Shore brides usually get married in late summer or early fall, and I do charge a one night hotel stipend if I am traveling over two hours to the venue to ensure I am on-site in time to start glamming you bright and early! Consider the supply and demand chain, as the wedding date gets closer, hotels and Airbnb’s will book up quickly, and what’s left will be expensive. The sooner you get your beauty professional booked, the better your odds are on saving a hotel fee. I’ve personally witnessed a room cost go from $89 to $175 in a matter of two weeks, so to ensure you (and the artist) aren’t forced to overpay, book early!

Finally: You Get To Choose. This sounds silly, but think about it – the earlier you book your beauty pro, the greater the amount of artists you will be able to choose from! Maybe a specific style is important to you, and you dream of an artist that specializes in full glamour transformations: if you wait until the last minute to book an artist, you may end up with someone who doesn’t have a lot of comfort or experience in your makeup style. This seems trivial, but I know that one item I never personally offer on wedding day is winged or cat eyeliner. I’ve found that many of my clients do not love that style, so it’s something I personally do not advertise as a specialty, but also I’ve found that [for me] it can be too time consuming on the wedding day to do an entire bridal party with this style of makeup. If you book early, you have time to sort through the artists and find someone who specializes in specifically what you love! Maybe budget is something you are conscious of as well? By booking a year in advance, you will usually qualify for the pricing from that period. The closer you get to your wedding date, the higher the prices will potentially climb. Again, supply and demand.

By all means, do whatever is best for you and for your budget! In no way is this meant to shame someone who may be a last minute planner, I know that I personally am the worst about things like meal prepping or coordinating travel for my own personal events, but something as special as your wedding day deserves (and takes) extra planing and care. These are just some helpful reasons to consider booking beauty services, or any vendor for that matter, as early as possible!

The Benefits of Exfoliation

Exfoliation: the act, state, or process of exfoliating; also the act of being exfoliated or scaled off. (as defined by But the real question is WHY should you be exfoliating? When is it important? How much? What kind of exfoliator should I use…?

Cleansing and moisturizing your skin alone, is simply not enough. While it is incredibly important to take the time to wash the grime away after a long day, and deeply nourish and moisturize the skin, what happens when you skip the crucial step of exfoliating?

Well, first things first. Exfoliation helps to remove dry and flaky skin from the surface. Teens to those of us in our mid-thirties have a skin cell turnover period of 14-35 days. As we get older, this rate of skin cell renewal continues to slow down, and this results in dry, dull, and lack luster looking skin. By incorporating a great exfoliator, this actually helps amplify the rate of our skin’s turnover, which results in our skin looking radiant and youthful longer! Who doesn’t want to look like they’re 40 when entering their late 60s? I know I do!

Second, think about just how much moisturizer you are slathering on your skin to tone down those dry and rough patches. Do you feel like to apply more moisturizer, the more hydrated you feel? But it simply isn’t working? This is actually super common. The thought process is that you will get better results by using more of the product. Sadly… Not the case. By applying more of that expensive moisturizer to the unexfoliated skin, you are in fact, just wasting product. You are trying to add hydration to skin cells that are already dead, and what benefit does that serve? Not to mention the fact that the dead skin cells have created a bit of a “barrier” on the top layer of the skin, and this in turn, makes it more difficult for your actual skin to reap the benefits of your moisturizer.

Next, have you considered the “EW” factor? Yes, for lack of a better way of describing it (and if you’ve read enough of my posts, you know I’m a “tell it like it is” kind of person) what do you think the dead skin cells are harboring? Bacteria, lots and lots of bacteria. Lack of exfoliation can lead to painful acne and visible flaking of the skin. In addition to the visible components of the dead skin accumulating on your face and the effect that it has on how your makeup applies and wears, you can really be causing harm to your skin by not helping the skin cells regenerate properly.

So what should you be using? Chemical? Physical? Norwex towel? This is to be evaluated on a personal basis. There is not a “catch-all” response to what you should be using! Personally, I enjoy washing my face with a mild cleanser and a soft rag to gently scrub away debris – AGAIN, GENTLE is the key component here. I’m the mornings, I like to use a scrub with small biodegradable grit to it (this is a physical exfoliator), I enjoy the Clear Pore Cleanser (link here) as it gently removes whatever is lying on top of the skin and cleans out the pores as well. In the evenings, I truly enjoy using a chemical exfoliation approach by applying the Overnight Resurfacer (Link here) in an attempt to gently remove the dull and dead skin with the active acids, and replenish the skin with oils and fatty acids.

Please connect with me directly so we can chat about what may work best for YOU! Again, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” answer to skincare, so I would love to help you find what will work best for your unique needs!

Remember the key components for successful skincare are:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Exfoliate
  3. Treatment
  4. Hydration/Moisturize

Why Airbrush Makeup?

One of my most Frequently Asked Questions is “Should I use traditional, or airbrush makeup for my wedding?” This can be a big question or concern for anyone that has not used airbrush previously, or if they have received a negative experience with using airbrush in the past.

I tell each and everyone of my clients that I LOVE using my Temptu Professional Airbrush Products on all of my clients. The airbrush products are phenomenal because they last around 16 hours, are weightless on the skin, and they are virtually water proof/budge proof the whole day.

Weightless: Do you love the full glam look, but hate the texture of layers of product on top of your skin? Same. I NEED to let my skin breathe, especially being a “no makeup – makeup” girl myself, trapping my pores in layers of heavy makeup can leave me feeling constricted. The airbrush products feel light as a feather, and are completely customizable to the coverage that you are seeking. From soft glam, where we showcase your freckles, to full glam with extreme coverage, the capability to build the products is amazing while never feeling heavy on the face.

Longevity: While I do love the Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation that I keep in my kit for all of my clients, I love how long lasting airbrush products are! Used correctly, airbrush can offer up to 16 hours of wear. With wedding prep often starting at 7am, the last thing you want to worry about is the potential for your products to disappear or move. With airbrush and proper skin prep, your makeup will last well past “Last Call.” And trust me, your makeup will not leave you feeling like a pumpkin after the clock strikes midnight.

Customizable: Both of my complexion kits, traditional and airbrush, offer a range of foundation shades to match just about any client needs. In my airbrush kit, I carry the entire range of Temptu SB Foundation to ensure that I can custom blend any color or shade you may need. A few drops of highly pigmented airbrush foundation are all that you need to counteract just about any breakouts or discoloration.

Which should you choose? Honestly, you would be safe with traditional or airbrush. I would never carry a product in my kit if I didn’t feel it would perform to my – extensively high – standards. However, I always suggest opting for the airbrush because this is a special day. Your best friend, sister, little girl… This is her big day. You want to look and feel your best the whole day through, and you want to celebrate the special moment, so go for the luxury option! Add on the airbrush, and opt for the faux lashes! You will not be sorry, especially when you look back at photos and see how naturally beautiful you look!

What to do About Oily Skin and Acne..?

Okay, we have all been there. We leave the house with the absolute perfect and most flawless makeup imaginable. Around 2pm, right when we are getting back from a late lunch and a trip to Starbucks (to help get through the last 3 hours at the office), we glance in the mirror and see a small amount of perspiration above the brows. At a much closer review, we notice that the oils have also broken through and turned our cheeks into a textured mess, and the makeup has successfully traveled into our smile lines.

In this moment, we regret the decision to leave our touchup kits on the vanity counter and chide ourselves for skipping out on the setting powder to save on a little time in the morning. It’s a little silly, but doing our makeup is much like baking a cake. There are strategic ingredients, procedures, and protocol to be followed, and if we don’t follow it through all of the way… well it could be a real flop.

As someone that used to struggle with the absolute oiliest skin… I know how troubling the oiliness can be. After speaking with countless clients about trips to the dermatologist, and heading to a dermatologist myself, a common theme that I have encountered is the readiness to prescribe a prescription to counteract the acne or excessive oils. I’m not a physician, and I would NEVER disregard the advice you have received from a medical professional. However, when I ask these clients, “So in addition to the birth control, blood pressure meds, and topical steroid creams.. What does your dermatologist have you on for a skincare regimen?” The concerning part… Very seldom, if ever – do my clients know what I am referring to. I struggle with the knowledge that we have become a society that readily prescribes a drug to fix something that usually can be fixed with a lesson in skin care, amplified hygiene practices (yes, wash those pillowcases in fragrance-free detergent weekly), and a brief look at what our routines are.

I always suggest to my clients to look into an oil control, and acne skin care line. Clinique, Murad, Exuviance, and Beautycounter offer some of my favorite skin treatments for clients that struggle with the excess oils. In recent years, I have again turned from readily accessible brands (down the street) to Beautycounter, and generally speaking my clients have had wonderful results. Countercontrol (link here) does a phenomenal job mattifying oily skin, and the ingredients also help to keep acne at bay. I will go into specific information about Countercontrol in a later post, but as a general rule here’s what you should know about selecting skincare:

  1. Do not use anything with fragrance. Dry skin, oily skin, perfect skin… It’s all the same. Added fragrance has no place in your skincare regimen. It can cause intense irritation and over drying of the skin, resulting in hives or even worse break outs than you began with. Please just avoid added fragrance as it can create some crazy reactions for you.
  2. Avoid any acne regimen with added oils. Unless you are incorporating a balancing oil (such as a product that utilizes safely harvested charcoal, and is also safe to use for the face) any moisturizer that advertises as a creamy lotion or has additional oils may not be right for you. I much prefer the replenishing feeling of a gel moisturizer on the skin for my oily gals, and oil-free hydrators should not cause the pores to clog.
  3. Never use anything with fillers or excessive levels of benzyl peroxide, especially if you have sensitive skin. The benzyl peroxide (again, especially if you have a sensitivity to it) can create excessive drying out of the skin and result in hives, or painful cystic acne.
  4. Cleanse, treat, moisturize, and repeat. Getting into good habits is important and necessary to ensure the efficacy of your skincare system. You should be using your skincare twice daily, and seven days a week. No exceptions. Skipping steps can create other issues for your skin, and lack of cleansing can result in excess bacteria being trapped in the pores at the end of the day. And then pesky breakouts popping up.
  5. Alcohol-free is your friend. Added alcohol in your toners and cleansers may cause over stripping of your skin, and in turn your skin can/will create additional oils to compensate.
  6. Make a list of your allergies, review the ingredient list, and check it twice. Never use anything that you have a known allergy to. EVER. Enduring irritation and reactions just to counteract any acne is not wise. Please discontinue use of any products that are causing any problems with your skin, and if needed seek advice from a medical professional such as an allergen doctor.

Essentially, the key to dealing with oily skin is to care for it with products that will help enhance your skin’s quality, and be religious and CONSISTENT with usage. When starting a new system, be prepared for the “purging stage” a few days to a week of your skin getting rid of the subsurface issues and bacteria, but again, PLEASE DISCONTINUE USE IF YOU DEVELOP A REACTION. Please connect if you have questions about specific products, I’d love to get you into a safe regimen and enhance your skin’s natural beauty! The advice above is just a tip of the iceberg, but they are important items to consider when selecting skincare for you!

The Importance of Primer

Okay, so let’s talk about primers. What are they, when should you use them, and why do you need them!? The overwhelming response that I get whenever doing a client’s makeup is a bit of confusion between the steps of skincare application, and foundation. This commonly skipped step is none other than primer.

Primer is so important for a few reasons. First and foremost, primer acts as a barrier between your cosmetic products (foundation, concealer, and eye products) and your skin and skin care. While applying skincare before you use your favorite makeup products is crucial, some of our favorite makeup products do not agree with our moisturizer, so by using an amazing primer, you are actually locking in the benefits of your skin prep and creating a clean canvas for your makeup to adhere. This will help to ensure that your skin’s pores do not absorb as much foundation and powder through out the day, and it assists in keeping your makeup from traveling or breaking down as your skin’s natural oils begin to produce shine.

Second, primer (dependent on what you choose to use) actually can create a smooth finish to the skin which helps combat the look of excess texture from large pores, fine lines, and acne scarring. I prefer to use a mattifying primer on my clients that has a mousse-like texture to fill in the extra texture issues, and combat additional oils from breaking down the products. This also helps to keep the look of large pores at bay when you are using high-definition photography for events such as weddings. (I will share my secret recipe to the perfect primer prep below, so keep reading!)

Third, and this does circle back to my first point, your makeup has less of an opportunity to conduct a disappearing act from your face when using a primer. Have you ever looked in the mirror at the end of the day, and wondered where all of your makeup went? There are a few possibilities, but finding the right primer will ensure that your products do not lose pigmentation through out the day (using primer actually extends the life of your color products such as blush and bronzer, and can help combat that 4pm washed out look we all have grown accustomed to). It also (as stated above) helps to ensure your oils do not make your products travel to other areas on the face – the unsightly collecting of products in the fine lines around your mouth and nose, or the baby wrinkles in the forehead. Primer creates an extra barrier for your natural oils to break through, and if you find one that works for you, it actually should slow the oil from finding it’s way to the surface. And finally, it helps your makeup stay in place when/if you bump it, maybe you gave a hug to your sister or close friend, and brushed the tip of your nose along the way. Primer will help keep that product from shifting completely – so important on wedding day!

So what primer should you be selecting? This varies dependent on your specific needs. If you are dry to normal, but do not have a lot of texture issues I like to use TooFaced’s Hangover Replenishing Face Primer (link here) to give an added boost of hydration from coconut water. On my clients, I use the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Balm (link here) on literally every single person. I enjoy that the balm offers some mattifying power, but primarily that it does a fantastic job filling in the pores and fine lines of so many clients, I even use this on myself for daily makeup as I love the way it extends the life of my products. It offers a light and mousse-y texture that visibly blurs the effects of dehydrated and texturized skin (even just by smoothing a small amount onto the back of the hand, the results are instantaneous).

For my oily girls, I begin by prepping the skin with an oil control moisturizer, and then layering the Exuviance Daily Oil Control Primer & Finish (link here) in all of the areas that the client finds get oily throughout the day. After the primer (which feels like a gel lotion) has a moment to dry and set, I will then follow it up with the Tarte Timeless Smoothing Balm (link here) as well, as it takes care of the texture issues like I mentioned above.

Eye primer is a more difficult one to nail down what works best, especially with so many new ones popping up via beauty bloggers all of the time. As a makeup artist, I prefer to use a clear eye primer, and utilize the undertone of the clients lid color when applying shadow. For this, I use the TooFaced Shadow Insurance (link here) eye primer to lock shadow in all day long. It creates a waterproof/water-resistent finish that is pertinent to a day of wedding tears. To be honest, this is the only primer I use in my kit. I have enjoyed the Urban Decay Primer Potions (link here) as well, but with the doe foot applicator, I’m not a huge fan of the packaging as I like that I can control the amount of product more easily with a squeeze tube, but both are great.

Finding the right primer for you isn’t always easy, and with new products popping up each day on the market, it really can be difficult to sift through what is new and works well, and what is just a new sku on the gondola. The few products I listed above are phenomenal, and I wouldn’t use them on hundreds of clients each year if I didn’t believe in them, but I know that what may work for most, doesn’t always work for all. If this is the case, reach out to me and I’d be happy to help you find something similar that may work for you from a different brand! You wouldn’t paint your house without priming, so take the extra care and prime for your makeup as well – the result will be life changing.

Winter Blues: Dry Skin Issues

Winter can wreak havoc on your skin. Dry skin, flaky patches, dry or even burning sensations? Girl, we have all been there. Over time, our skin begins to lose its natural moisture and lipid barrier due to natural aging and progression, so it is our duty to give it some extra TLC to keep our skin looking youthful all year long!

Ask yourself, in the middle of the day, if you do not apply a thick layer of moisturizer… how does your skin actually feel? Do you feel tight and uncomfortable all over? Are some areas flaking off, due to dead skin and lack of skin cell turnover? Does your makeup tend to collect and almost grip to specific areas of the face? Do you ever struggle with your skin “drinking” your foundation into it by the end of the day?

Lack of proper hydration may be a huge proponent as to why you are struggling with your skin. First things first, consider how much actual water you consume on a daily basis. Are you getting atleast the required minimum amount of ounces for you? (Dependent on which resource you utilize, the suggested minimum is 8-14 cups of water daily). When your skin is dehydrated, it is important to begin working from the inside out and implementing extra water. I always encourage my bridal clients to opt out of the night before celebrations, get a good night’s rest, and drink plenty of water, while avoiding coffee and alcohol that will potentially cause you to become dehydrated.

Next, you should be using a cleanser that effectively cleans the skin without stripping the skin of its natural moisture barrier. An amazing option that I use to melt away my long-wear makeup is the Cleansing Balm (link here) from Beautycounter. In addition to working hard for you, it is never hard on you. This amazing little gem can be used overnight as a sleep-in moisture mask, or also used to calm down eczema or even diaper rash.

Toning the skin is crucial to ensuring your skin is in balance and prepped for your treatment options, I recommend the Countermarch Hydra-Gel Radiance Toner (link here). Apply two pumps to a reusable cotton pad, and sweep over the skin after cleansing to remove any residual toxins or pollutants and prep your skin for exfoliation and serums.

For exfoliation, I used to be a firm believer in the power of a scrub. As I age, my skin changes, and I develop new sensitivities – I have learned that I much prefer using an overnight chemical exfoliator. With powerful enzymes that will increase cell turnover, a chemical peel is the answer we have all been searching for. I can tell when I skip out on the Overnight Resurfacing Peel (link here) because my skin is just not the same. The Overnight Resurfacing Peel does a phenomenal job of helping to even out my skin tone, increasing luminosity, and minimizing lines and texture. I recommend this to all of my clients as an addition to their current regimen to amp up their results.

Treatment options are vast and you can truly select whatever corrective products you need, there is something for everyone! For customers that struggle with dryness, I recommend a serum that focuses on hydration and also something that creates a plumpness to the skin. I enjoy using the Intense Moisture Serum (link here) morning and night as a final prep step before my moisturizers. Think of it as pushing the serum deep into the skin’s layers, and then in turn, locking in the benefits by applying a moisturizer.

Eye cream, please, please, please invest in an amazing eye cream! In your younger years, a hydrating eye cream is usually sufficient – I really enjoy using the Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream (linked here) on all of my clients because it is safe, gentle, and adds an amazing level of hydration without ever being too heavy. If you have issues with your concealer creasing or moving around, incorporating a great eye cream may be part of the answer to your prayers! I highly recommend this to everyone I chat with.

Finally, the cherry on top of the sundae – moisturizers. I recommend oil-free formulations that take advantage of hyaluronic acid and other natural hydrators. Your daily (morning) moisturizer should offer protection against environmental stressors and even SPF. Yes, during the winter you do still need to use SPF. Environmental stressors and UVA/UVB rays can actually accelerate the signs and rate of the aging process. I highly recommend the Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizing Lotion (link here) to use during the day. This moisturizer is light-weight and offers a custom approach to your skin care. By utilizing custom adaptation technologies, the Countermatch Adaptive Lotion gives your skin just what it needs throughout the day and never leaves the skin oily or uncomfortable! In the evenings, I like to use the Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream (link here) to take advantage of the skin’s natural regeneration process! This cream offers a thicker consistency, but never clogs the pores and it helps lock in added hydration to refresh your skin for the day to come! On days when the Minnesota weather is extra awful, I will even use this guy during the day for an extra moisture boost! So good.

You can probably tell by the end of this blog post that I’m a bit biased when it comes to skincare. I discovered by Beautycounter products, and I will probably never go back to my other favorite brands, that being said – finding skincare that works for you, your budget, and your lifestyle are also key components. If you have used these products before and you’re looking for something else, still reach out! I would love to help you find something that works for you!

The Importance of Skincare

Can you imagine being 39 years old, and looking this amazing!? Healthy diet, working out, and an amazing skincare regimen are the building blocks of making sure your skin looks fantastic with, and without, your favorite makeup products! Failure to use skincare that is custom tailored to you could result in makeup breakdown throughout the day, clinging of foundation to dry spots and added flakiness, and even a lack of the makeup adhering to the skin in a manner that looks seamless.

When should you begin your skincare journey? Honestly, it is never too early to start. I encourage my youngest clients to begin with a simple cleanse, treat, and hydrate system because in addition to finding the best products for them, another key component is ensuring that they get into good habits and use the systems morning and night. Skincare always works best as a system, and when used properly.

The components of a great skincare regimen include a cleanser, toner, exfoliator (physical or chemical), treatment options such as serums to target specific concerns, a great moisturizer, and an eye cream specific to your needs.

During my consultations with clients, whether a mini session with a bridesmaid – just moments before their makeup application – or during a private session, such as a bridal trial, makeup lesson, or other beauty session, I always go into depth describing the importance of finding a skincare regimen and we discuss the client’s main concerns. I also always tell my clients that “If your skincare is a two, your makeup will never be a ten.” This is so important, and incredibly true.

Before your special event, please do not start a new skincare routine if you have less than 6 weeks between the start of the regimen, and your special event. As a general rule, it takes 18-21 days (on average) for your skin to grow accustomed to a new routine and so you do not want to run to your local beauty retailer days before your wedding and start the newest beauty craze. It can take a few weeks for your skin to recover from a reaction.

Another piece of advice that I suggest is to always purchase your beauty products from a trusted retailer. Buying skincare or cosmetics online from places like eBay, Amazon, and the Facebook Marketplace could result in unknowingly using a product that is not in its purest form. Unsafe fillers, additives, and chemicals are commonly used in brands that are sold on the secondhand market, so always shop somewhere you know and trust.

My personal recommendation is to begin implementing a beauty routine from Beautycounter (feel free to use this link to shop with me directly). I have always been a firm believer in the safety and efficacy of products from Clinique, however in the past year I have changed my personal routine, and the products I use for client skin prep) exclusively to Beautycounter and my skin has been transformed!

In closing, whatever skincare you implement, do your homework to ensure it is right for you. Never use anything with added fragrance. Shop from a respected beauty retailer. And use your regimen regularly. Please feel free to reach out if you need assistance finding the beauty routine that works best for you!

Selecting Your Wedding Vendors

You’ve said, “Yes” after your partner finally got down on one knee and you both find yourselves in a whirlwind of vendor emails, family advice, and wedding planning bliss (or chaos dependent on how you handle the stress of planning a big event. Haha!) So how do you prepare yourself to make the best decision when it comes to selecting vendors for your wedding?

Below, I will go over just a few of the pieces of advice that I offer my clients when it comes to seeking out everything from the photographer and caterer, to choosing the perfect artist for your beauty services – the advice can truly be applied to any vendor service you are seeking out!

1. First things first, start by deciding an appropriate budget that you and your spouse are comfortable with. Decide what is important to you, and what items you might be able to live without – place these items on a “wishlist” so to speak, so that as you are planning your big day, you can investigate them further.

2. Begin to seek out vendors in each service category that you are seeking for. Instagram and Facebook are a wonderful place to start, as well as TheKnot and WeddingWire. Review photos of the vendor’s work, read through the reviews, reach out to personal friends and family members that have also worked with the vendor for an overview of their experience. Really do your homework! Once you’ve found someone you are really interested in, send an inquiry email!

3. In your inquiry email, it is important to be as thorough as possible. The vendors understand that there are a lot of details you do not have figured out upon first contact, but big details to include are:
– What you are looking for: If you are reaching out about beauty services, it is helpful to specify if you are seeking hair services, tanning packages, or makeup applications.
– The date of your event: This will save you a lot of unnecessary hassle if you begin with the date of your event, as you do not want to get too far along in the proceedings only to learn that your vendor is not available for your event
– Location of the venue: Many vendors will charge a travel fee, so if you are working with a small travel budget for your vendors it is helpful to look for someone local to your venue
– Generic timeline for the date: Many vendors like to know what the time line of your wedding or other event will look like. Helpful details such as when you are able to enter a venue, the time of the ceremony or pictures, etc. will help to ensure things go smoothly with the booking process.

4. Respond promptly to all correspondence from the vendor. Chances are that you are not the only bride planning a wedding on your selected date, and if you love a vendor, there is a very high likelihood someone else does as well! By keeping up with correspondence from your professional, you increase the odds that you will be able to successfully book the vendor you love.

5. Complimentary phone consults – utilize them. By chatting with your potential vendors on the phone, you can gauge the vendor’s communication style, customer service level, and personality. It is important to feel really good about your communication and correspondence with your vendor as any second-guessing of your interactions could result in unneeded stress as your wedding approaches. If you do not love someone, that is okay! It is human nature not to mesh well with every single person you meet, don’t take it personally. Politely thank the vendor for their time and information, and find someone else. This is to be expected!

6. Book the vendor. Sign the contract. And pay the deposit. These steps often finalize the booking process for your vendors. I cannot urge the importance of the contract and deposit process enough. While each vendor will have their own booking process, I always suggest utilizing vendors that have a legally binding contract for you to enter into. This not only covers the vendor in the event that you should have to cancel services, but it serves as a wonderful tool for you, the client, to ensure that you receive all services and items agreed upon during the booking process. It ensures that the vendor agrees to be prompt, courteous, and work to keep your best interests and experience in mind. It also ensures that you do not have a poor experience where the vendor unintentionally double books themselves, or cancels due to a non-emergency. Get the contract.

There are so many, many other key components to successfully booking your vendor, and truly the list could go on. As a starting point, these are some key factors and components to consider when making sure that you have the opportunity to book the vendors that will bring your dreams to reality! Best of luck with your wedding planning, I wish you an amazing experience every step of the way!