February 28, 2015
NEW IN FROM BAREMINERALS

NEW IN FROM BAREMINERALS


If you'd asked me about 5 years ago what my go-to base product was, I'd have automatically responded Bare Minerals. As I got older I ventured away from using powder foundations, mostly because my skin was changing and becoming drier, which meant heavier mineral makeup and my skin no longer got along. Even though I no longer used the products, it's safe to say my love for Bare Minerals goes way back, which is why I was intrigued when I caught wind they were releasing a new base, Complexion Rescue

We can all use a bit of rescuing when it comes to our complexions, really. I'm a big fan of the natural looking, skincare-infused bases that have been coming out recently, and this definitely follows suit. This "tinted hydrating gel cream" contains a hefty SPF 30, making it great for daily wear, especially for the warmer months up ahead. In terms of application, it goes on almost like a gel moisturizer and seems to fuse with the natural skin texture, instead of sitting on top like a mask. It gives a light to medium coverage, and I'd say it's more a sheer wash of perfecting tint than anything else. If you're looking for a foundation to cover up a lot of pigmentation or blemishes, this probably isn't going to be it. 

I am really pleased with how well the product wears over the course of the day. I believe the fact that it's gel-based makes it great for a variety of skin textures from dry to combination. It's supposed to increase the hydration levels of the skin by upwards of 200% after just one week of use, meaning it's not going to appear cakey on dry-skinned girls. On my skin it's quite balancing, leaving things feeling very natural and soft, as if I'm only wearing a moisturizer. I've been using the Smoothing Face Brush to apply this product and am loving the way it buffs any excess so seamlessly into the skin. These two really go hand-in-hand when it comes to creating a flawless, everyday appropriate makeup. 

Keeping with the theme of fresh and youthful, and the almost beachy vibe that these products give, I also picked up the Pop of Passion Lip Oil-Balm in Rose Passion. These are super moisturizing tinted balms that are highly pigmented and give a fresh pop of color to the lips. I love any and all moisturizing tinted lip products, so these are perfect for a quick little dose of color at any time. The rosy stain that this shade leaves behind once all the oil has absorbed into the lips makes for such an effortlessly pretty look. 

What do you think? Will you be trying any of the new Bare Minerals releases?
February 27, 2015
INSTANT TOUCH-UP ESSENTIALS

INSTANT TOUCH-UP ESSENTIALS


Touch-ups may seem somewhat high-maintenance in nature, but there are times when all of us could benefit from those instant fixes. Whether you're getting off a plane and heading straight for sightseeing (hello photo-op), going straight from the gym to work, or in the midst of a date - you kind of need to make sure you're looking your best. It requires very minimal time and effort to take your bag of essentials to the ladies room, but makes a world of difference. Here are the products that, quite literally, help to save face in any situation. 

You most likely already have a face full of product, so just dabs here and there of a long-lasting coverup will work wonders. I love the Laura Mercier Secret Camoflauge Concealer for on-the-go corrections and the dual-toned palette allows for mixing up the perfect shade. This stuff covers all manner of sins from a sleepless flight, thanks to the peachy hue, to a stress-induced blemish, courtesy of its' no-budge formula. To add a bit of freshness to the face, I use the YSL Creme de Blush, as the creamy foolproof pink actually allows for a slapdash application. The only tool you'll need to use with this is your fingers, and the bouncy texture means it can even be dapped onto the lips on top of a lip balm.  If it's an oily t-zone that your worried about (you know how the camera lens isn't very forgiving), then a bit of a radiance inducing powder like the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish will cut shine without making the complexion look flat. For an eye-opening effect, a creamy nude shadow is your best bet, especially when there is no time to faff around with blending powders. I love the Giorgio Armani Eye Tint in the shade 11 because it instantly brightens and adds a bit of color to the lids, not to mention lasts for ages without creasing. If I need a transitional product for a day to night look, I always bring along a brown eyeliner, like the Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon in Ro(Cocoa). An eyeliner can be used to smoke things up or wing things out for a more glamourous look come nighttime. 

And one last tip - never, ever, forget an extra-large pair of sunglasses for when all else fails. What are your touch-up beauty essentials?
February 26, 2015
TRANSITIONAL HUES OF BLUE

TRANSITIONAL HUES OF BLUE


I love blue nail polishes for any time of the year; they've always been some of my favorite to wear no matter the occasion. But after a month long hiatus from painted nails (I got lazy, what can I say?), it's now almost March which means spring is just around the corner. Where I'm from, it's still, ehem, a bit difficult to imagine that a happier season is upon us with all the snow refusing to melt off the ground. To me, blue nails are a great way to transition from the moody winter weather into spring before we slap on the brights, and there are so many great shades to choose from, making it easy to find one that suits you. 

When it comes to blues, I tend to gravitate toward the gray based shades, which make them less tween-like and a bit more sophisticated, and toward the shades that lean violet, which seems to flatters so many skin tones and nail shapes. My favorite winter to spring transitional shades definitely lie on the subtle end of the blue spectrum, which is what makes them more everyday appropriate. I'm currently wearing Essie Petal Pushers, the stone blue shade shown on the bottom right that's new for Spring 2015. Can you tell I'm a fan of Essie's blue polishes? Maybe...

My other most-worn blues, clockwise from top left: Essie Bikini So Teeny, Essie Boxer Shorts, Deborah Lippmann Blue Orchid, and Essie Parka Perfect

What are your favorite blue nail polish shades for early spring?
February 25, 2015
A DRUGSTORE DUPE FOR MY FAVORITE CONCEALER?

A DRUGSTORE DUPE FOR MY FAVORITE CONCEALER?


You can find me rambling on about base products quite often around these parts, and if you too are a product junkie, I'm sure you are on the same never ending quest to find the perfect concealer that I am. While I'll admit I have been a fan of the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer since it's release, and always have a tube on backup, I still didn't love it for the under-eye area quite like I loved it for covering blemishes. 

Enter the Clarins Instant Concealer, which I discovered some time last year, and fell in love. It's much more fluid and emollient in texture compared to the Nars, which can be quite drying under the eyes, but this one doesn't settle into fine lines, thanks to the high water content it contains. It gives a medium coverage that can be built up easily without looking overdone, or becoming ashy and separating, which is perfect for hiding a sleepless night. The concealer settles down to a silky-smooth finish and the added caffeine lends a hit of puff-reducing freshness to the area. I don't know any other way to describe how I feel about this product besides, well, love

A few weeks back, I was away for the weekend, and somehow managed to leave my prized tube of concealer behind. How could I? Off I ran to the local drugstore and I left with a tube of the Maybelline Master Conceal Camouflaging Concealer, unsure of how it would fare in place of the Clarins. To my surprise, and a pleasant one at that, I found that this budget concealer was a close runner up to my much pricier favorite. Mind you, the shade I picked up is a tad too light for my skin tone, but the product's performance is actually pretty great. Similar to the Clarins, it's a medium coverage concealer with a creamy texture, maybe a bit less fluid, but nonetheless, the texture blends easily under my eyes (which can be dry at times) concealing puffiness and my light to moderate dark circles without becoming dry or cakey. My one tip is to be careful choosing a shade, as these run lighter than they appear on the outside of the tube, but other than that - apply sparingly and you'll be fooling everyone into thinking you've in fact had a week's worth of great sleep. 
February 24, 2015
LUXURY BEAUTY BRANDS WORTH THE PRICE TAG

LUXURY BEAUTY BRANDS WORTH THE PRICE TAG


With so many enticing beauty products on the market it can be quite hard to know where to start, especially when it comes to purchasing from luxury brands. All wrapped up so beautifully and stamped with their respective flashy logos, everything looks worthy of those pretty pennies. The problem is that what's on the outside can sometimes make it difficult to decipher what's on the inside. I'm here to help you crack the code on luxury beauty products and tell you which brand does what the best, what products you should skip out on, and what releases are absolute must-buys. 

Hourglass // An innovation machine when it comes to new releases, Hourglass go where no brands have gone before and do it well. My favorites from their line are the powder products; the Ambient Lighting Powders give the skin a dewy perfected finish, the Ambient Lighting Blushes you know are a favorite of mine, and their new Modernist Eyeshadow Palette is beautifully stocked with buttery shadows. Another category worth a look from the brand are lip products, which, I hear Miranda Kerr is quite the fan of. 

Clinique // For their Chubby Stick product range - I've yet to come across a makeup stick from Clinique that I don't like. I think their cream to powder formulations are on point where face color is concerned, and their smoothing and moisturizing lip colors can't be beat. Try Clinique Chubby Sticks in these forms: Cheek Color Balm, Sculpting Highlight,  Curvy Contour, Shadow Tint for Eyes, and Moisturizing Lip Color Balm

Chanel // Unfortunately for my wallet, I love a lot of products from Chanel's makeup line. They do some great staple products, like the Le Blanc de ChanelVitalumière Aqua Foundation, and the Perfection Lumière Velvet Foundation. I also love the Rouge Allure Velvet and the Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks, which come in the most beautiful everyday nudes and the best vibrant reds. Where to skimp? The eyeshadows, which I have to say I have never been all that impressed by, other than the Illusion D'Ombré which are offered in beautiful multi-dimensional colors. 

YSL // I'm a huge fan of YSL's lip products. Any and all of them, that is. Sickly sweet fragrance aside - as a girl with constantly dry lips, I enjoy their moisturizing formulations and glossy, natural lip-enhancing shades. My newest lip addiction is the Volupté Tint-in-Oil, a unique product that imparts a shiny oil finish on the lips, that, once absorbed, leaves a behind a pretty stain that lasts for hours. The Gloss Volupté is one of my all-time favorite non-sticky gloss formulas, and the Rouge Volupté Shine lipsticks are some of the best out there in my opinion. 

NARS // One of my long time favorite brands, and actually the first high-end brand I became fond of. I love so many of Nars' products, but think they have got it down when it comes to glowy base products. I'm a regular user of the Radiant Creamy Concealer, the Sheer Glow Foundation, and think that the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is the best one on the market - it gives good coverage while still allowing the skin to breathe. Nars is also my go-to brand when I'm looking to add pops of color to my normally-neutral makeup routine. I love their Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, eyeshadows, and in my opinion, any palette they release that's dubbed limited edition is worth a close look. 

Charlotte Tilbury // You can read more about my favorites from Charlotte Tilbury's line here, but I love her products for sultry makeup for the on-the-go modern woman. I'm still dying to get my hands on some of her lipsticks, as well as to try out an eyeshadow palette, but so far I love the Lip Cheat Lipliner, the Filmstar Bronze and Glow, and the Light Wonder Foundation is beautiful. 
February 23, 2015
CLINIQUE CHUBBY STICK CONTOUR & HIGHLIGHT

CLINIQUE CHUBBY STICK CONTOUR & HIGHLIGHT


I've put to rest the ashy contour lately, as more chalky tones are the last thing my skin needs during the dry winter months. But when I saw that Clinique was releasing a contour and highlight duo in the form of Chubby Sticks, I just had to give it a go. The first time I scribbled these cheekbone inducing crayons onto my face I knew they were going to be taking up permanent residency in my makeup bag for a very long time...

I know that people have mixed opinions on the whole contouring situation, and I myself have yet to get behind adding it to my daily routine. It can be quite high maintenance, and I'm more of a quick makeup kind of girl when it comes to daytime makeup. I don't like to look like I'm wearing too much, and that's why I usually reserve the ashen contour products for nights out. Highlighter, on the other hand, I'm a daily user of, but in moderation and only if the product contains no shimmer. Shimmer is best left for nights at the bars and clubs only

This creamy stick duo is a definite game changer when it comes to contouring and highlighting for daytime. Each stick is sold separately, but both are only offered in a one-shade-fits-all option. The contour comes in a shade that looks quite intimidating at first glance, as it's darker and warmer than what I'm used to using, but when blended into the skin it actually looks more natural. I attribute this to the texture of the product, which, if you've tried one of the brand's blush sticks, you'll know is silky, creamy, and beautifully blendable. I draw it along my temples, under my cheekbones, and along the sides of my nose as seen in the photo above, and blend it out with a buffing brush for flawless daytime-appropriate sculpting. I do think that this will work well on a wide range of skin colors, as it blends so seamlessly that it can be built up to your desired depth, similar to the way a bronzer works. Still yet, I think Clinique would do well releasing additional shades for this product. 

The highlight shade is truly a great one, as it contains absolutely no shimmer and only sheen, making it perfect for wear anytime. The color stands somewhere in between a golden and icy pink, slightly reminiscent of the Benefit High Beam, but in a much easier, on-the-go friendly form. What's great about it is that you really don't even need a mirror to apply this, as you simply can't overdo it on application. It's a total "swipe on, and tap in" glow, which sort of makes this my favorite highlight to date. 

I think Clinique really hit the nail on the head with this release, as this duo gives anyone the power to create model cheekbones without needing to have a certain skill set, just a finger or brush for blending. That simple...
February 21, 2015
MY MAC PALETTE

MY MAC PALETTE


It's hard not to get caught up in the latest and greatest when it comes to beauty product show and tell. And while I love new releases, I think it might be about time I showed you something I always have handy and use on a regular basis, my MAC Custom Palette. So, here are the shades inside my personalized palette and my recommendations for anyone looking to start one of their own.

Top Row, L to R // Vanilla, Ricepaper, Omega, Era, Patina
Middle Row, L to R // All that Glitters, Soba, Tempting, Espresso, Concrete
Bottom Row, L to R // Sable, Cranberry, Antiqued, Sumptuous Olive, Club

When it comes to eyeshadows, I like to use a combination of satin and matte textures, and tend to reach for more shimmery options come nighttime. While I've mastered my daily makeup and a range of other looks, I'm certainly no makeup artist, so this is just what works best for me in terms of both time and ease of application. 

For daytime, the shade out of the palette that gets the most wear is undoubtedly Patina, which is similar to Burberry Pale Barley (side note: has the shade been discontinued?!) in that it's a cool-toned pale brown that's buttery in texture, but this one is grayer and less golden. The other two that I wear on an everyday basis are Era (champagne taupe) and All that Glitters (pink-champagne with golden flecks), which both look great worn all over the lid or as a base for black winged liner. For transition shades, Omega and Concrete are firm favorites, as they help to define the socket without looking too stark. Tempting is one of my all-time favorite bronze shades, as it has incredible depth, and I really enjoy using Club on nights out, as it has this great duo-chrome effect that looks brown, and then purple or bit green depending on the way the light hits it. 

I'm happy with the shades in my palette at the current moment and think together they create a nice spectrum of color, all neutral enough to be mixed and matched to create different looks. I would definitely repurchase the shades I mentioned above, but I'd also love to try another matte shade, as well as something a bit different from my usual neutrals. Do you have any favorite MAC shades that you think I should try next?
February 20, 2015
MY CURRENT BASE ROUTINE

MY CURRENT BASE ROUTINE


It's rare that I fall hard for a particular base routine as I'm constantly testing products and switching things around. I don't quite know what it is, but lately, that's just not the case. I've been pretty consistent with the products I'm using, and right now, the more minimal I can make my look, the better. A lot of products don't mesh as well with my skin during the winter, so you can bet that when I find a routine that works and makes my skin look a little bit less, meh, I'm going to stick with it. 

I haven't been applying much product at all in terms of my base, and I'm finding that more fluid products in thin layers is the best way to keep things looking natural, while still getting a perfected result. Remember that, fluid products in thin layers. It's seriously one of the best tips I've gotten when it comes to foundation and concealer application, as you can go back later and build up to more coverage where needed, instead of caking it on all at once and overdoing it. After all, Marie Antoinette said "let them eat cake" not "let them wear caked faces" - yuck

After I let my morning moisturizer sink into the skin, I've been applying a drop of the Clarins Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base in the shade 02 Champagne. I like this primer because it's not silicone based, allowing more layers to adhere and blend well without the buildup effect. It cancels out ruddiness and evens things out so well around the central part of my face, that when I go in with my Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (shade 3) I only need the smallest amount to finish the job. My under eye bags get a ring finger dabbing of the Clarins Instant Concealer in the shade 01 which does an excellent job of soothing and brightening. It's a great concealer that I highly recommend for the eye area as it never creases or settles into fine lines, which is not a quality that all products can boast. 

What are the base products that you're currently loving? Do you use any of the products mentioned or can you recommend others? 
February 18, 2015
GLOSSIER MASK FORCE

GLOSSIER MASK FORCE


Glossier, beauty brand baby of Emily Weiss and the Into The Gloss team, recently launched two new additions to their skincare line. First came the 'Phase 1' set, which included a rosewater mist, a moisturizer, skin salve, and a skin tint - it was only natural that next up was a set of complementing skin treats. Enter two face masks, the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack for detoxifying, and the Moisturizing Moon Mask for soothing and infusing the skin with hydration.

I have to admit I've fallen victim to Glossier's product releases both times, due to both their genius marketing, sort of  a 'by the people for the people' type deal, and because of the anticipation leading up to the launches. The products also look really awesome on your "top shelf" as all of Emily's chic and "low maintenance" friends demonstrate, Instagramming away "top shelfies" starring the pastel-bottled goodies.

I like the simplicity of these masks, which are designed to be used in tandem, and I think they make good basic additions to any skincare regimen. If you're just getting into skincare, the Phase 1 Set along with these two tubs should have your started kit sorted. The Mega Greens Galaxy Pack does a nice job of decongesting pores without leaving your skin feeling overly dry or tight, like some clay based cleansing masks can do. The velvety soft feeling you're left with after use is probably thanks to the inclusion of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help your skin to maintain that balance. But for me, the real star of the show is the Moisturizing Moon Mask, which comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise because I don't usually see results from hydrating masks other than, well, short-lived hydration. This one, however, feels like an energy shot for my skin; leaving it refreshed, bouncy, brightened, depuffed, and comforted all at once. These two are my new skin rehabilitating friends - bringing my skin back to it's happy place after I've neglected it in some way.   

I also have to say, I appreciate the relatively affordable prices of the products - nothing too overpriced or gimmicky, and I love the packaging - like toys for grown women. So tell me, do you plan on trying out these new masks? I'm off to apply mine as we speak...
February 17, 2015
MONEY SAVING BEAUTY HACKS

MONEY SAVING BEAUTY HACKS


There are times when a splurge can certainly be in order when it comes to beauty products - like that Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow Palette - swoon. But that doesn't mean there aren't places that you should skimp on cash where your routine is concerned. With so many multi-tasking products out there all it takes is a bit of savvy shopping to save yourself both time and money. Here are areas where I often like to cut beauty corners, leaving more pennies for, say, that new bag you've been lusting after. 
  • Your foundation can also be your tinted moisturizer // This may sound a bit hypocritical coming from someone who owns so many bases, but really, you can just mix your foundation with a bit of moisturizer for a more customized product. I've tried this method many times and liked the outcome better than some tinted moisturizers that I already own. I think it works so well because you can tailor your coverage to moisture ratio, making it perfect for both your skin type and desired finish. 
  • Use empty candle jars for storage // This again. I know it's probably a bit redundant, but it's just hard to stop mentioning something that works this well. I love the way these cute little jars contain random bits and bobs, especially my makeup brushes and product samples. They certainly don't need to be Diptyque to work, but if you happen to have burned through one, you'll feel less guilty if you repurpose the jar after. Clutter be gone! 
  • Use a moisturizer that doubles as a primer // Some moisturizers work so well at evening out redness and at helping makeup adhere to the skin, that there is really no need for a separate primer. Get rid of the unnecessary extra step, and layer of product, and try a multi-tasking moisturizer instead. My favorites for layering under makeup are the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré and the Glossier Priming Moisturizer
  • Hoard perfume samples // No need to buy those often expensive travel sized bottles of perfume for the few weeks you're on vacation out of the year. If you shop at any department store or Sephora, they almost always toss in a few fragrance samples for good measure. I used to have a habit of tossing them out, but now I save them up and bring a few with me each time I go away - and I have to say I don't mind having my options.  
  • Groom your own eyebrows // This may seem a tad obvious, but with a little bit of patience you'll be saving yourself a lot more money than you might think. Did you know waxing or threading costs between $20 and $50 per appointment? The average woman gets hers done about 15 times per year - that's anywhere from $300 to $750 a year. Learn the brow shape that best suits you, never overdo it, and get plucking! 
  • Your favorite berry lipstick also doubles as a great lip stain // Lip stains are making yet another comeback, in case you haven't noticed. They seem to be a runway mainstay year after year when the weather gets warmer, similar to the whole "florals for spring?" concept from the Devil Wears Prada. Groundbreaking. It's an easy trend to get behind, though, and I especially like the stain concentrated on the inside center of the lips for a low maintenance and whimsical effect. But, before you run out and spend more money on another lip product, dab on a berry lipstick that you already have, like the MAC Satin Lipstick in Rebel, and dust overtop with a setting powder.
February 16, 2015
THE EYEBROW GROOMING TEAM

THE EYEBROW GROOMING TEAM


I know I've mentioned to you all before that eyebrow grooming isn't something I can forgo. First off, if I didn't tame them I'd look a bit too much like Frida Kahlo for my own liking, and secondly, the scar I have through my left arch is the bane of my eyebrow existence. Thanks to a few (or multiple) eyebrow products, nobody will ever have to know my eyebrow secrets - except for you lot, considering I just spilled the beans to you. That's okay though, since I've had a lot of experience in the brow department I'm going to share with you my little grooming team. 

Favorite budget products // The Revlon Brow Fantasy is all you could ask for and more in a drugstore brow product. At under $10, it boasts a tinted setting gel that is actually pretty good and a pencil. I think it's got great bang for your buck. My only issues are that the pencil could be a bit longer and that it be offered in a wider variety of shades (ashier browns please). If you're a fan of brow markers, then I'd suggest trying out the NYX Eyebrow Marker. If I didn't have my bald spot, which requires a longer-lasting wax based product, this is probably all I'd use. It's super wallet friendly and looks light and natural on the brows. 

For perfect definition // For mimicking the look of natural hairs the Anastasia Brow Wiz is the best out there. The extremely fine wax nib lets you get into all the nooks and crannies without overdoing it - I will never be without one of these pencils in my stash. If you don't have time for drawing individual hairs and need something that can do the shaping for you, the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil is definitely one to try. I like that this has a thick and flattened wax tip so that all you have to do is trace it along your arch for perfect symmetry. The shade range for this product is pretty awesome too as they offer ashy brown shades which tend to look more natural. 

For setting those hairs in place // The Blink Brow Bar Clear Gel is the best I've come across so far. I am not a fan of gels that cause your hairs to separate, are gluey, or that leave residue, and this one does none of that. I'd have to say, though, that the Cover Girl Professional Natural Lash Mascara in Clear is a close runner up, and a much more budget friendly option. I actually just ran out of mine and will definitely be re-stocking ASAP!
February 14, 2015
FRESH AND MINIMAL VALENTINE'S DAY MAKEUP

FRESH AND MINIMAL VALENTINE'S DAY MAKEUP


Chances are if you're going to be doing anything special tonight, you have no idea what you're going to wear let alone what makeup look you'll be going for. Am I right? While today is as good a day as any to wear a punchy lip color and fake eyelashes, it's also a good day to actually look like yourself, just enhanced. I know that my boyfriend doesn't appreciate when I overdo it in the makeup department, and I'm sure he's not the only guy out there who feels that way. So instead of caking it on, why not trick him into thinking you're barely wearing any with a few strategically applied products for a naturally pretty look?  

A good trick to avoid overdoing the foundation is to go in first with a tone evening primer, like the Clarins Instant Light Radiance Boosting Complexion Base. This way, you're already starting out with a more perfected skin and lit-from within glow and can go from there with applying the rest of your base makeup. In keeping with the minimal and natural theme I like to use something light like the Chanel Les Beiges Fluid Belle Mine which creates a skin-like texture that's practically undetectable. I also like how this adds a bit of a post-holiday glow to the skin, eliminating the need for bronzer later on. 

I like to use as little powder product as possible so that there are no obvious traces of makeup on the skin, so I skip a dusting on the t-zone and just use the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade as a highlighter. This is great for a subtle highlight because it's made to be used all over the face which means it's very finely milled. For cheeks I think a petal pink is super fresh and youth inducing, making the Clinique Cheek Pop a great option. I use the shade Plum Pop, but most of all I love the bouncy gel/powder texture of these because it really brings out a nice healthy glow. For the eyes I think keeping them simple is sometimes best, so something like the Nars Duo Eyeshadow in Kalahari, which is a burnished taupe combo, is perfect for the right amount of enhancing. I then smother my lashes in mascara and brush up my brows with some clear brow gel. I'm really liking the B Brow Bar Clear Eyebrow Gel lately; it's got great hold but never leaves residue or looks crispy - a huge no no! 

Last but not least, for those of us opting for a moisturized and natural lip, the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipsticks are one of my favorite formulas. I think for tonight I'll be using the shade Evasion which is a smooth nude that makes lips look slightly bigger than they actually are. Don't forget a spritz of something warm and sexy - one of my all time favorite perfumes is the Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille. With all the snow coming down here in the Northeast though, looks like I may have a last minute change of plans and opt for a night in! No matter what you're plans are for tonight, have a Happy Valentine's Day! 
February 13, 2015
MAKE EYELINER APPLICATION INFINITELY EASIER

MAKE EYELINER APPLICATION INFINITELY EASIER


Sometimes all you really need to spruce up your makeup routine are a few items that are already hiding out in your toiletry cabinet. For example, these pointed tip cotton buds and a bottle of La Roche-Posay Solution Micellaire Physiologique save me so much time and effort when it comes to applying my eyeliner. Who knows where that line would be without their help...

Some eyeliners are easier to use than others for drawing on that perfect cat-like flick. But when you don't have time to worry about where on the spectrum from makeup artist to disaster the one you have in your drawer sits, then I suggest having these two products handy instead. The pointed tip on the cotton bud, dampened by the tiniest amount of the micellaire solution allows you to retrace that wobbly line that you just drew. Violå! A super simple tip that makes all the difference in applying your eyeliner, whether you prefer black or something more along the lines of a pop of color, it works amazingly every time.  

And for more Necessary Nothings, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and download Stash to shop my favorite products!  
February 12, 2015
FIVE BLUSHES THAT SUIT EVERYONE

FIVE BLUSHES THAT SUIT EVERYONE


Some color on the cheeks brings a youthful and fresh feeling to pretty much any makeup look. If you don't know where to start in terms of choosing a shade, or shades for that matter, these are my personal favorites and it just so happens that they are universally flattering as well. 

  1. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure // I love almost all the shades from this line of blushes, but Mood Exposure is no doubt my favorite. The formula of these blushes are incredible, each blush has a complementing highlight shade running through it. It looks almost plummy in the pan but when applied on the cheeks and swept upward it gives a subtle sculpted warmth to the face with a touch of glow. 
  2. Bobbi Brown Blush in Nectar // A sheer, but easily blendable blush in a matte, peachy pink shade that will suit quite an array of skintones. The result is a healthy and fresh cheek that would complement any neutral makeup look perfectly. The formula of the blush is long lasting, so it's not going anywhere once it's applied. 
  3. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Tipsy // Yup, this one again. It's a punchy bright flush that does just what the name of the shade suggests. It gives you that "I've had one too many" flush but never looks too much on the cheeks thanks to both the lack of shimmer and the finely-milled light formula. 
  4. Dior Rosy Glow Healthy Glow Awakening Blush // A baby pink blush that mimics the look of naturally flushed cheeks, courtesy of quite a unique formula. The shade self-adjusts with your skin's chemistry to create a custom flush that looks as though it's coming entirely from within. It's literally everyone's unique, but perfect, pink. 
  5. MAC Powder Blush in Harmony // A tawny taupe blush whose shade versatility allows it to be used as either a blush or contour. I reach for this blush when I want something that will complement my makeup and not interfere. It's great as a quick warmth-inducing sweep and sure to be any blush-shy girl's new favorite. 
February 11, 2015
PALETTES ARE THE KEY TO EASY PACKING

PALETTES ARE THE KEY TO EASY PACKING


Well, for beauty packing at least. They cut out the work of having to pick your favorite blush, bronzer, contour, highlight and the other loads of products that you don't quite have the space for in that too-small makeup bag. These three carefully curated palettes are the only thing I'll be bringing with me whether it be for long weekends away or for longer trips abroad. With spring break season soon to be upon us (still 3 months to go until my vacation, boo) this little roundup is sure to help ease your packing-induced stress. 

For the indecisive girl who's a bit more on the high maintenance side, there's the Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette. This palette is a tad bigger than the others, but the fact that there are three blush options, the best bronzer, and a highlighter tucked inside make it worth taking along. My only tiff with this one is that the highlight isn't the most natural that I've tried, it leans on the shimmery side of things and is best left for nighttime use. That's okay though, because we can all agree that Nars do some of the best blushes, and one thing this palette isn't is short on shade options.

If you are looking for a sleek and easy option that includes just one of everything you'll need, then there's the Urban Decay Naked Flushed. I spoke about this last summer, and can vouch for it's ability to be the best little travel companion ever with it's champagne highlighter, natural looking bronzer, and dusty rose blush. I took this with me to Spain and used it everyday over a light-coverage base for a fresh face, perfect for a summer vacation. 

The most simple, but possibly the most glam of palettes is the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow. Because, really, what else could we want but to be bronzed and glowing? On vacation you're likely to lighten up on makeup a bit and the bronze shade in this duo is great for sculpting cheekbones and warming up the complexion at once. Come nighttime, whether you're headed out for a dinner al fresco style, or for a night of dancing, the highlight included in this palette can't be matched for it's glow-inducing finish. 

If you're crafty, the powders in any of these palettes can double as eyeshadows as well, making your life just that much easier. Now, if only these guys would sprout legs and morph into a personal stylist to help pack photo-ready outfits too. 
February 10, 2015
VALENTINE'S LIPS

VALENTINE'S LIPS


While you most certainly don't need a special occasion as an excuse to don a bold lip, Valentine's Day is still a good one. Whether you're celebrating with a nice dinner, your girlfriends, or on the couch with pizza and wine, I say go for the bold with a lipstick of your choice. I've got you covered no matter how you plan on getting festive this weekend.

The Pizza-Proof Options // If you want to be able to actually enjoy your meal and wine, without having to sacrifice the full-on red lip, these matte lip creams are your little saviors. My favorites are the Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Riviera, an orange-based red, and the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red, a true and universally flattering red. Either way, once applied these won't be going anywhere

The Smudge-Free Choice // Worried about kissable lips and transferring red all over your date? Try this Ilia Lip Conditioner in Bang Bang, a great option for a sheer wash of fruit-punch red, instead. The formula of this is amazing because it's a lipstick/balm hybrid, so you don't ever have to worry about the color cracking or becoming messy. 

Hot for Pinks // The most complexion brightening of the bunch, especially when complemented by a swish of barely-there pink blush. I'm wearing Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in La Diva in the photo above, and love the sheer-matte candy like appearance of the shade. I'm personally not a big fan of opaque, glossy hot pinks because they can end up looking like melted bubblegum or a bit too Barbie - but mattes are a modern way to wear the shade. Another favorite of mine is the Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Yu which is super easy to apply, and touch-up! 
February 09, 2015
THE LAZY GIRL'S PERFECT BASE

THE LAZY GIRL'S PERFECT BASE


A fresh and perfected skin is all we're really looking for our base makeup to create, non? What if I told you that you could get that exact outcome in only three simple steps? You're lying if you say you're not interested, because let's face it, we're all a little lazy when it comes to getting ready on a regular basis. This weather (snowstorm number 4?) has been adding to the "don't make me do anything" factor lately, and I haven't been bothered with much makeup aside from the products I'm about to tell you about. 

I apply a lightweight moisturizer immediately after washing my face in the mornings, and other than that, have been slapping on a bit of the Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer. I've had an on-again off-again type of relationship with this product, but lately, it's ticking all the boxes in the base category. I love that this stuff is as barely there, French girl-esque as it can get for foundation and it doesn't cling to dry patches thanks to it's moisturizing formula. For under the eyes, I've tossed my Clarins and Nars to the side and have been favoring the (cheap as chips) Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Treatment. I'm not sure about how hygienic the applicator is, but I keep mine for use only under my eyes and I love the minimal work it requires. It never creases either, it's minimal coverage just brightens like a dream. Last but definitely not least, I use the tiniest drop of the Perricone MD No Bronzer Bronzer. This product is essential to livening up my ghastly complexion and adding a bit of a healthy, never heavy, bronze warmth to the face. Every girl should invest in a liquid bronzer, no questions asked.

Certainly the best part about this little routine I've adopted is that it takes about three minutes - and that's with extra time for blending. What's not to love about that? 
February 08, 2015
SKINCARE FRESH FROM YOUR KITCHEN

SKINCARE FRESH FROM YOUR KITCHEN


We talk about different products on a daily basis, testing new skincare and elaborate treatments, but what about those mega skin-boosting ingredients that we have sitting in our kitchen cupboards? I'm talking about lemon, sugar, honey, avocado, yogurt, coconut oil, and tea. Nope, those aren't ingredients that I'm using to cook up my healthy lunch du jour, but my favorites when it comes to use on the skin for natural but effective results. Here are the benefits of each ingredient and why I love them: 

Yogurt // Yogurt has been used as a natural cure for skin lacking moisture, dull skin, and acne, for thousands of years. It's said that Cleopatra used to bathe in yogurt to keep her skin looking as youthful and clear as possible. Of course, not yogurt of the Trix variety, but plain old greek yogurt. You're better off sticking with the most simple (not fat free) kinds so that your skin can reap the full benefits of this beauty-booster. My personal favorite is the Greek-classic Fage in either 2% fat or whole fat - the higher fat varieties are better to promote rejuvenated skin. 

Yogurt is great for troubled and sensitive skin, as it contains lactic acid which exfoliates, brightens, and moisturizes. It's also a good source of zinc, which is anti-bacterial and helps to heal and soothe the skin, making it great for acne-prone skin and psoriasis. Yogurt is a great base for creating at-home face masks of any variety, as it solves all sorts of skin-woes and will help other more powdery ingredients (rice, oatmeal, sugar) to adhere to the skin. There are hundreds of DIY yogurt based mask recipes floating out there in cyberspace, I suggest you go try one! 

Lemon // These citrusy fruits are truly the beauty-gem of the fruit bowl. They have so many simple and effective beauty uses, and quite honestly, the benefits of such are hard to beat. Lemons are known to clear and brighten dull skin, act as a vacuum for congested pores, and cut down on excess shine. In fact, lemon juice makes for a great natural toner, especially when mixed with other skin-loving ingredients like tea tree oil and coconut water for added moisture. 

If you're looking to get rid of blackheads without using harsh treatments, then rubbing a slice of lemon along areas where you are prone to the pesky suckers will help a great deal. Lemons are rich in citric acid and vitamin C, which are great for neutralizing free radicals and promoting collagen stimulation. Lemon juice also great for internal cleansing when squeezed into hot water as a morning drink, as when they are ingested they become alkaline and help to calm the digestive system. And let us not forget - a spritz of chamomile infused lemon juice is the most effective old-school way to lightening our locks come summertime! 

Avocado // One of my personal favorite toast and chip toppings, ever. Avocado is also an amazing source of omega-9 fatty acids, making it quite a multi-tasking skin and hair treatment that helps to repair, nourish, and moisturize. Rich in vitamins and minerals, this creamy superfood makes for an ultra-effective anti-aging and moisturizing face and hair mask when applied on its own. I also love to slice sections of avocado and place under the eyes (10 minutes will do) for a brightening, dry skin fix. 

Honey // You're sweet as honey, honey. Yes, honey is a great natural sweetener to use in place of refined sugars, but it's also beneficial to your skin's health. It's a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, and contains hydrogen peroxide, making it anti-bacterial and great for healing the skin. Honey is the perfect natural first-aid skin ingredient for use on problems ranging from acne and scarring, to healing cuts and preventing infections. It covers the skin in it's golden balmy texture but allows it to breathe, and therefore, heal faster than it could on its own. 

My favorite way to use honey on my skin is to mix it with yogurt for an anti-bacterial, moisturizing, and resurfacing mask. It also makes a great natural exfoliating scrub when mixed with sugar and massaged gently into skin on face, or body! 

Coconut Oil // I've spoken in depth about my favorite uses for this skin-loving oil, here. It's important that you use the unrefined, virgin, and unbleached kind when putting this on your skin, or in your body for that matter. It's a great natural moisturizer to help rehydrate dry skin, that also helps balance your skin's pH levels which leave it in a happy state. It's even recommended by dermatologists for use on eczema and psoriasis due to it's anti-inflammatory (it contains polyphenols!) properties. 

The oil also makes for an uber-nourishing hair mask that tames frizzies and flyaways. Since it can be quite greasy, I recommend only applying it from mid-lengths through the ends and then washing out with a clarifying shampoo and conditioner. 

Chamomile (Tea) // Chamomile has been used in practice of traditional medicine for thousands of years and was especially favored by the Romans and Egyptians. Chamomile comes from a flower similar in appearance to the daisy and contains active bisabolol, which boasts both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile is a natural acne-fighter and works especially well when used topically as a daily toner for the skin, calming and reducing any inflammation. 

I has also been used as a natural skin-lightening agent since ancient times by the Romans, and as a hair lightener by the Egyptians, who favored a lighter, almost brassy hair color. This wonder leaf works great for softening skin, tightening pores, and over time fading scars and any existing hyper-pigmentation in the skin. 
February 06, 2015
A POSTCARD FROM UMBRIA: TO YOUR SKIN

A POSTCARD FROM UMBRIA: TO YOUR SKIN


This bar has become my skin's new best friend. For use on face or body, this hefty 7.1 ounces of pure earth is 100% clay from the Italian town of Nocera, Umbra. This natural wonder-bar is a versatile and unique skin treatment that can be used as a detoxifying face mask, as a deep cleanser, or as a spot treatment to heal irritation and blemishes. Surely, you're familiar with the healing properties that belong to clays such as bentonite and kaolin, which are common ingredients in many pore cleansing masks, though, I must say the clay that makes up this Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar is like none other. 

While I do enjoy those varieties in moderation, to me this clay is of a finer quality; softer, thinner, and much less drying. Fresh uses this clay in many of their products and says that it has such a high mineral content that it does all of the following; absorbs toxins, soothes irritations, reduces breakouts, and aids in the regeneration of healthy skin cells. I like that this bar uses absolutely no fillers, chemicals, or preservatives, so it's unlike any normal "soap" that you've seen before, in fact, it's not soap at all. It's pure clay pressed into bar form, that's sourced solely in the town of Nocera, making it quite a special treatment if you ask me. I think that sometimes the best products are the simplest, and this bar has been proof enough of that. Since I started using this, my skin has been clearer, softer, brighter, and generally more refined. What makes it so different from other clay based products I've used is that it has never caused my skin to feel dry or tight, which is the main reason I don't dabble in clay too often. 

This stuff, though, is a game changer and I've been using it as a quick detox-treat for my skin multiple times a week. I've found the best way to use this is to dampen your face, wet the bar, and apply with fingers to your skin in a thin and even layer. It takes only a few minutes to dry down, which makes this an awesome product for those of us pressed for time. Go ahead, apply this as a part of your morning routine and wait for it to dry while making your morning cuppa'. It takes quite a small effort for such a big improvement - thank you mother nature...and Fresh. 
February 04, 2015
GUERLAIN METEORITES PERLES DE BLUSH

GUERLAIN METEORITES PERLES DE BLUSH


Guerlain has released a new product as a part of their spring 2015 line, Guerlain Meteorites Perles de Blush. Mouthful. I'm sure you're acquainted with the original Meteorites product (pictured above); that tin of incandescent powder-pearls that seem as though at one time they were Marie Antionette's complexion enhancing product of choice. Maybe they sat on her vanity next to a tower of pastel colored macarons and an assortment of sky-high powdered wigs. Who knows, but I sure think they're as beautiful on the skin as they are inside their tin. 

I am a fan of the original illuminating pearls, so I knew I had to try out the blush as well. It comes housed in a vintage-inspired cardboard box imprinted with a cotton candy cherub motif that's oh-so pretty, and again, French Queen-esque. I've been using my Meteorites Brush to swirl the pearls and impart the color onto my skin, and have to say I am impressed. The pot includes three shades of pearls, that together, create a radiant cheek; a fuschia for brightening and color, a rose petal pink for softness, and an iridescent champagne for highlight. It lends a fresh springtime appropriate flush to the skin with an added hit of radiance thanks to the lighter colored pearls. I love the softly diffused effect that the pearls give, versus your standard blush, and the powdery-violet scent adds to the overall experience of using the product. 

These little gems have made themselves a new home on my dresser as well as on my cheeks. What do you think; will you give these a try?
February 03, 2015
LIP BALM SHOWDOWN

LIP BALM SHOWDOWN


Lip balm is an essential for me, as I'm sure it is for most. It has become a part of my routine that cannot be missed, and after years of trialling products from Chapstick to La Mer, I have discovered which work the most effectively. There are almost too many lip balms on the market to choose from, let alone to know which will work well with your skin type and which will wear well under a bold lip. Allow me to give you the low-down on my favorites...

If you're an ingredient-reader and therefore prefer natural products with a thick emollient texture, then you'll love the Lucas PawPaw Ointment. This stuff is literally a godsend; from painfully chapped lips to dry cuticles and everything in between, it solves all your dry skin woes without any nasties. If you're looking for a fancier, less smelly Vaseline, then the Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 is your guy. I like this when I'm in the mood for a bit of shine, it works great on top of a nude lipstick to add the illusion of plumpness - it's also available in a boatload of flavors which is nice for picky-people. Everyone and their mother rants and raves about the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm, but have you tried their Reve de Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick? The potted balm (with that heavenly orange-honey scent) is great for a more intensive treatment, and I especially love it for it's matte finish, but the stick is better suited for on-the-go touch ups and is more compatible for use under lipsticks because of it's thinner texture. 

Try EOS Lip Balm for a cheap and cheerful option that is less medicinal than drugstore alternatives. I love how the Coconut Milk scent smells of candy, and the formula sits happily in between matte and shiny. Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm is a great organic option and is infused with tons of antioxidant-rich nourishing plant oils. Its' texture turns from a sold balm into an oil when massaged into lips which makes it feel as though it's quite an intensive treatment. Of course, I couldn't leave out the cult-classic By Terry Baume de Rose, although it's wallet-weepingly expensive. *I think it physically hurt to hand my card over for this at the register.* Surprisingly, I don't regret buying this wonder-pot, and in fact, it's become my favorite lip treatment of all. It sloughs off dry skin like nobody's business and gets to work like a serum for the pout. If you're not a fan of rose scented products then this might be one to skip, but I love to slap on a bit before I hit the sack because I wake up to still-moist lips and no cracking in sight. 

What are your favorite lip balms and treatments?
February 02, 2015
WANT A GLOWING COMPLEXION IN MID-WINTER?

WANT A GLOWING COMPLEXION IN MID-WINTER?


I know I do. It's been a bit of a challenge to obtain hydrated and glowing skin conditions due to the Alaskan-like temperatures we're currently experiencing in the Northeast. It's the time of the year when I'd really appreciate a teleportation to a tropical beach; waves crashing, palm trees swaying in a warm breeze, with a strawberry daiquiri in my hand. That would certainly be one way to achieve that well-rested glow I'm coveting, but all the dreaming in the world won't make that happen, so I have an edited selection of products that will.  

Right out of the shower (morning, or night) is the prime time to apply a face cream to really seal in hydration, so that's precisely when I slather some of the Santa Maria Novella Crema Calendula onto my skin. This cream is rich and soothing, the perfect fix for chapped winter skin, and unlike some it sinks in like a dream, banishing redness in its path. If you have oily skin you might want to skip this next step, but at night I always apply a drop of oil by pressing it into my skin to lock in my moisturizer. Right now my oil of choice is the Caudalie Polyphenol Overnight Detox Oil, which is great because it's a dryer oil (oxymoron alert!) that plumps skin and doesn't leave any residue. 

When it comes to makeup application, the key is to apply multiple thin layers of product, building up to your desired coverage so as not to go overboard or end up with that caked-on effect. I like to apply the Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel as a base before my foundation. It's a great light-infusing primer that evens out the skin before any tinted product goes on, eliminating the need for excessive makeup. I tend to reach for a foundation that's lightweight and fluid for an extra natural finish, and that's exactly what the By Terry Sheer Expert gives me. I love the way that By Terry's products always feel as if they've incorporated skincare ingredients so that you don't feel that you're just masking your skin, but treating it as well. To get an uber-even finish and to make a small amount of product go further, I use the Bobbi Brown Full Coverage Face Brush for application. In place of an obvious highlighter that may cling to dry patches, the L'Oreal Magic Lumi Concealer has been put to work, for a subtle but effective glow. 

This combination of products have been working great for me, keeping dull winter skin at bay. What are your go-to products for combatting this moisture-sucking weather?
February 01, 2015
THE BEST OF CHARLOTTE TILBURY

THE BEST OF CHARLOTTE TILBURY


Charlotte Tilbury has already carved out quite the name for herself in the beauty industry, not only as a renowned makeup artist, but as a brand. I think that says a lot for a product line that released in the U.S. less than one year ago. Charlotte's name is already synonymous with luxury and the packaging and quality of the product inside is competing on the same playing field as top brands like Burberry, Chanel, and Dior in my opinion. I've been a fan of the brand since I first got my hands on the products, and have to say they really do live up to my expectations in every way. The CT brand epitomizes glamour, and gives women the tools to become a supermodel in her own right; here are my top picks from her line:

Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Youth Boosting Perfect Skin Foundation // This is my newest addition from the world of CT, and like most of her products, it doesn't disappoint. It's quite a unique formula in that it's light and fluid but has the power of a medium coverage without ever looking it. The product feels great on the skin and once it sets it feels as though you've just applied a serum to your face; it's smoothed, illuminated, and plumped without any trace of oiliness or glitter anywhere. The cherry-on-top is that you get more product for your money than usual, the bottle contains 1.4 oz of foundation instead of the standard 1 oz, which I can't say I'm mad about.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk // I've become somewhat addicted to this product and now rely on it for many reasons. It helps to create a long-wearing base for whatever lip product that comes next and is really the perfect shade match when it comes to a natural lip color. It's the 'my lips but better' of the lip liner world and so good that I often wear it alone with just a bit of balm.

Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic in Ecstasy // I love me some blush. There's something so pretty about the shades and packaging and that's certainly no different with this product. I like how this contains two different tones in one compact and it illuminates and adds color at the same time. This shade in particular is great for days when you don't have much else going on on the face and just want a healthy flush of color, like the result of having a few drinks on a night out.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow // The all star of Charlotte's line. Do you see that packaging? It's just so luxe and looks as though it contains some sort of treasure, which I guess you could say it does. The palette houses a bronzer/sculptor and a highlighter, both two of the best I've ever tried. The bronzer is the perfect shade for carving out cheekbones or adding a bit of overall warmth to the complexion, and the highlighter is buttery champagne perfection. Anyone who has any interest in looking like a goddess should probably give this a try, just saying.

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Champagne Diamonds // I think I've made it pretty clear how much I love shadows in stick form and this is one of my favorites yet. I picked the shade for blue eyes, although I have brown, because the shade is a universally flattering rose gold with micro-glitter. I love using this during the day on the inner corners of my eyes to brighten the area, or at night all over the lid with a swipe of black eyeliner kitten style.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre // I've been reaching for Charlotte's glosses more days than not. The formula is on-point with great lasting power, the perfect sized wand for targeted application, a vanilla cupcake scent, and great shade selection. I currently use the shades Portobello Girl and Blondie atop Charlotte's Lip Cheat to fake a fuller lip without looking overdone or unnatural.

I'm already thinking about which products I'd like to try next from Charlotte, and the line has quickly become a favorite for me.