October 29, 2015
A GUIDE TO FLORENCE, ITALY

A GUIDE TO FLORENCE, ITALY

View of Florence and the Arno River from Piazzale Michelangelo.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, otherwise known as Il Duomo.
Basilica di San Lorenzo.
Ospedali degli Innocenti.
Basilica di Santa Croce.
Florentine rooftops from the Palazzo Vecchio.
Florence is my favorite city in the world and one I have spent quite some time visiting, and living in, in the past. I am headed back for a visit this December and I really can't wait for my feet to be planted back on the golden Tuscan ground. There's simply nothing like the glow of the Florentine sun cast upon the cobblestones and terracotta buildings - it brings me a feeling unlike any other. 

As you know, Florence is a city steeped in rich history, so much so, that the entire city center has been named a UNESCO world heritage site. The city was built on the site of an ancient Etruscan village (59 BC), and became famous for establishing itself as the banking capital of Europe during the reign of the Medici, and was the birthplace of the Renaissance that took place during the 14th through the 17th century. 

One of the best ways to learn about the city, or to visit it for that matter, is to break it down into the 4 Quarters of Florence. The Italians call it the "Quartieri di Firenze" and it is broken up simply by the 4 historical districts of the city: Santa Maria Novella, San Giovanni, Santa Croce, and Santo Spirito. (This website breaks them down simply.) Through touring the city by district you will learn so much more about the way of life in each of the Quartieri, what the original purpose was for each, and who the nobile families and artists of note were. I would love to go in depth on each quarter, but for now, I wanted to share with you my favorite restaurants, shops, and spots in the city so that you may grab a delicious and authentic meal and live like a true Florentine during your visit. I could go on forever in these lists, but keep in mind for length purposes I'm narrowing it down to my few favorites.

For Dinner: 
Trattoria ZaZa - A cozy, legendary trattoria located near San Lorenzo that has attracted famous tourists from around the world. The homemade pasta is to die for and the desserts are a must-try.

Il Latini - Family style service restaurant for a true taste of Florentine cooking. The chef will often surprise you and the wine and drinks flow plentiful throughout your meal. 

Coquinarius - A very quaint, and hard to find restaurant nestled on a side street right off of Piazza del Duomo. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the city for the fantastic, personalized service and the delicious Pear ravioli. 

Ristorante Buca Mario - Another warm, welcoming restaurant that cooks up Florentine specialties from a menu that changes seasonally. 

For Lunch: 
Gusta Pizza - For around 6 or 7 euro you can get yourself an entire pizza for lunch, and it will probably be the best you've ever tasted. Be quick to grab yourself a wine-barrel table though, as space is limited in this popular pizza shop. 

I Due Fratellini - My favorite place to get a sandwich, for 2 euro, mind you. This is the definition of a hole in the wall and locals gather around the sidewalk outside of this window-only shop to enjoy their deliciously simple lunch with a glass of wine.

Pizzeria O'Vesuvio - This pizzeria transports you straight to Naples, and yes, the cast of the Jersey Shore did "work" here during their time abroad.

Gelato:
Vivoli - Ask anyone where to get gelato in Florence and they will tell you here. It's for good reason, and each flavor is made fresh daily in this family owned and run gelateria. Try the Crema flavor, trust me.

Grom - A popular Italian gelato chain, but delicious nonetheless. You'll find it flooded with visitors constantly, and they seasonally change their offerings to include delicious hot chocolate or granite.

Gelato Santa Trinita - Probably a little less known, but this chic gelato shop offers fresh and fruity varieties of your favorite flavors. You can also pick up some local specialties in the attached wine shop. Not to mention, the walk over the Ponte Santa Trinita (bridge) to get here is quite spectacular itself.

Shops: 
Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella - One of the world's oldest pharmacies, first founded in 1221 by the Dominican Friars who made herbal remedies to use in the monastery. The ancient pharmacy is still open and they make some of the most beautiful and natural beauty products I've ever come across. 

Coin - A very hip and modern Italian luxury department store located on Via dei Calzaiouli, the main street connecting the Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Repubblica.

la Rinascente - Italian luxury department store, with quite a beauty department if I do say so myself. The store is located in the Piazza della Repubblica and attracts quite a few interesting visitors. It also boasts a rooftop bar that makes a great place to enjoy Spritz O' Clock.

Hopefully this mini guide helps you to eat make your way through Florence, enjoying every bite.
October 28, 2015
GUERLAIN'S GAME-CHANGING FORMULAS

GUERLAIN'S GAME-CHANGING FORMULAS

Writing constantly about beauty has its ups and downs - trialling a good few products on the regular is definitely a pro. But, it also makes it hard to find stand out formulas in a sea of similar products and launches. And something else to consider in this ever-changing beauty landscape, is that the best products aren't always the newest, shiniest releases. So yes, you do have to dig. Then again, that's what us beauty bloggers are here to do. 

Recently I've discovered two new products that haven't left my face since their stash-induction. Guerlain has been on my mind since their Holiday beauty offering landed on my desk - I think I simply forgot how amazing their products were and had a bit of an "ah-hah" moment. 

I was lucky enough to be invited for an education on their products, and as a result, fell in love with the lineup once more. After an in-depth look at their star products and brand heritage, there were many items that caught my eye, but none more so than the Guerlain Maxilash Intense Volumizing Mascara and the Guerlain KissKiss Roselip

Maxilash is everything I've always wanted in a mascara; drama, thickness, curl, definition, and length. I'm not joking, either. I haven't come across a formula this good, like, ever. I've been using another high-end mascara for about a year now and was comfortable with it, until this completely converted me and I have a feeling there's no turning back. Not to mention, have you seen that tube? So sleek, elegant, and...perfect.

The KissKiss Roselip is a beautiful hydrating and plumping tinted lip conditioner. I'm always a fan of sheer colored balms for everyday use, but this one has risen to the top of the ranks quickly. It cushions the lips with a veil of beautiful and impactful color. It's not one of those "tinted balms" that don't give any color payoff whatsoever, instead, it's the perfect everyday neutral shade. It's also improved the condition of my lips drastically, and lasts much longer than your typical buttery formula. It's safe to say I'm in love. 

Have you tried any amazing formulas from Guerlain before?


October 27, 2015
MUST-TRY: HYDRO-GEL EYE MASKS

MUST-TRY: HYDRO-GEL EYE MASKS

If there's anything I love in the beauty world most, it's the products that fall under the simple and immediately effective category. Not many do, but when you cross paths with a product that does what it should, and fast, you know it's a keeper. These Hydro-Gel Eye Masks, from a K-Beauty brand called Cellpio, are amazing. 

The round golden canister comes with 60 gel masks, or 30 pair, soaked in an essence of sorts for your eyes. They are made with all natural ingredients, and feel absolutely amazing on tired, puffy eyes. I love that at the end of a long day, I can come home and place these on and forget about them completely. The thick gel layer forms perfectly to the delicate skin around the eye and doesn't let go, so you can feel free to go about your usual business without thinking twice. The best part is, when you take them off, there's no rinsing required, so you even do this right from the comfort of your bed without having to ever move. Yes, please. Oh, and let's not forget that you reap instant benefits from using these; brighter, depuffed, and relaxed eyes are your reward. 

They are similar to many products that K-Beauty brands have out on the market currently, and I suggest you pick yourself up a pack if you haven't yet. The ones I have, I picked up from a small specialty shop and can only find them available through Amazon, so I've linked a few similar options below.

I'm obsessed, and quite honestly, don't know how I was ever without these in my routine.
October 26, 2015
HOW TO GET "BOY BROWS"

HOW TO GET "BOY BROWS"

Groomed to perfection in a very girl-like fashion, of course. Glossier's new Boy Brow grooming pomade makes it easy to flaunt what you've got in the brow department, a movement I am certainly on board with. The idea behind this magic brow wand of sorts, is that your brows will look like a better version of themselves after a quick once-over with the spoolie. To me, this is the whole "no makeup, makeup" revolution making it's way into the brow category. 

The look is described by Glossier as being "fluffy, full, and untouched" and I really couldn't agree more. I love the way that this pomade does just the right amount of something while looking like, well, nothing. It's basically brow black magic and nobody will know that you've touched up your brows but you. As you can see, I went ahead and did a comb-through of my brows with the perfectly pint-sized wand and the result is more defined, fluffier brows that stay in place. No sticky, crunchy, or fibrous gel here - just your brows, but much better. 

Have you tried Glossier Boy Brow yet?

*pr samples included.
October 25, 2015
A GLOWING GIVEAWAY

A GLOWING GIVEAWAY

Sharing is always a good thing, especially when it's something you know people will love. I have recently been loving the Farmacy Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm, which is a skin-renewing night treatment perfect for all skin types. At first glance it looks like a balm and at first touch, it feels like a gel - making it the perfect hybrid that's über nourishing, but not at all greasy. I call it "glow in a jar", because by morning your skin will be looking plumper, more balanced, and even-toned.

Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm is formulated without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates so it's great even for sensitive skin or ingredient-conscious beauty lovers. The aromatherapy-like scent also helps lull you to sleep, which is always a major bonus in my book. I can't wait for a couple of you to try this product!

Details:
Farmacy has been kind enough to send me product to give away to 2 lucky readers. I have here 8 miniature pots of product, and am giving away 4 to each of 2 winners. These are the perfect size for travel and keeping at your bedside table for a bit of a pre-bedtime treat. I personally love miniature sized products in general, but these are hefty enough for many uses. 

How to enter:
This giveaway is open to US residents only, due to shipping restrictions, and you must be 18 years or older to do so. In order to qualify for this giveaway, there are a few things you must do first:

  • Follow me on Bloglovin' here (Necessary Nothings)
  • Follow me on Instagram here (@necessarynothings)
  • Follow me on Twitter here (@nec_nothings)
  • Like me on Facebook here (facebook.com/necessarynothings)
  • Comment below this post letting me know your favorite bedtime beauty ritual, and leave me your email so that you can be contacted should you win.

Please note that your entry will not qualify unless you complete all of the steps, and comment below with the easiest email at which you can be reached. Remember, there will be 2 winners of 4 pots each. If this giveaway goes well, you can be sure that I'll be hosting another shortly...I have quite a few lovely goodies to share with you.

The giveaway will end Wednesday, October 28th at midnight. I will announce the two winners (chosen at random) Thursday morning. Enter now! 
October 23, 2015
AMPING UP FALL SKINCARE WITH LA PRAIRIE

AMPING UP FALL SKINCARE WITH LA PRAIRIE

Fall is the perfect time to begin your winter skin prep. It's time to amp up your usual skincare routine with nourishing products that will keep your skin in tip-top shape throughout this season and into the next. Rich creams and oils are one of the best ways to protect your skin from the elements, not to mention even those with oilier complexions will benefit from these types of products. Oil is combatted by oil, which I'm sure you've all heard before. Though, it's important that you make sure you're using the right types of creams and oils, and that's where La Prairie comes in.

La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil and Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Cream are two of my must-haves for combatting the colder temperatures. 

The Oil is certainly an amazing one, but the key phrase here is "dry oil." This isn't your standard greasy oil, instead, this lightweight oil sinks in on contact and instead feels like an über nourishing serum. It leaves my skin feeling dewier, all while smoothing out fine lines, and nourishing my complexion. Over time, this oil has promoted a more radiant complexion overall as well and has, if anything, prevented any breakouts from plaguing my complexion. It's certainly a skincare treat worth investing in if you'd like to see real, lasting results.

I have, of course, been using the Oil in conjunction with the Cream, which have become my go-to duo for plump and radiant skin. These are potent, yet gentle, anti-aging skincare products that will leave even younger complexions staying that way longer. The Cream feels like silk on the skin and leaves no trace of product once massaged in, just smooth and moisturized skin. As a part of my nighttime skincare routine, I often mix a drop of the oil into the cream for a juicy and deeply hydrating skin treat. It has given me the perfectly plump, smooth, and radiant canvas on which to apply minimal makeup come morning.

How do you amp-up your skincare routine as the temperatures drop?

*pr samples included.
October 22, 2015
GUERLAIN HOLIDAY COLLECTION 2015: WINTER FAIRY TALE

GUERLAIN HOLIDAY COLLECTION 2015: WINTER FAIRY TALE

The Guerlain Holiday Collection is always one I look forward to, year after year. The brand is steeped in luxury and tradition and continuously bring out some of the most innovative, yet traditional seasonal products that are worthy of excitement. Just look at that glowing-gold packaging; what screams I'm ready for the holidays more than that? And on that note, can we please fast-forward to them now? If you're not ready yet, read on...

Guerlain's Holiday 2015 Inspiration: Imagine a quiet winter evening. Snow lending its brightness to the steel grey sky from which it falls. Snowflakes glistening as they float through the air and fall on the still ground beneath. These are the inspirations behind Guerlain's much anticipated, limited edition Winter Fairy Tale Holiday 2015 Collection. The festive assortment captivates, dazzles and entices with its stunning array of makeup and powders. Encased in whimsical, elegant packaging, this entire collection takes skin from dull and dry to radiant and glowing regardless of the cool winter weather.

Now that you've been transported to the perfect whimsical winter evening, let me tell you about the two stars of this collection, the Météorites Perles De Neiges and the Eye & Blush Palette

The Météorites Perles De Neiges are beautiful, as they always are. But this time, Guerlain took the typical powder pearls and added illuminating snowflake-shaped pearls as well. These little pearls are complexion transforming, which is why I am never without mine. This special edition version gives the complexion a perfected look while also adding a wintery touch of radiance and subtle iridescence thanks to the inclusion of the snowflakes. I love the soft-focused glow that these pearls give, and that they make a real difference to the complexion while remaining subtle. 

It's hard to look at this stunning product and not talk about the packaging, which is enough of a reason to add this to your must-have list immediately. I don't think your vanity has ever seen something more beautiful.

The Eye & Blush Palette is one of the most exciting palettes I've come across in some time. This one includes an array of shades that are stunning, all of which will see equal play-time. The included shadows are all of satiny iridescence and done in perfectly wearable golden and neutral shades. The bottom half of the palette houses 2 matte blushes in rosewood and coral shades, and 2 illuminating blushes in pink and peach with a golden streak. I love each blush shade included, and also love the brightened effect it gives the cheeks when swirled together as one. 

These pieces are both perfect for use and truly works of art. It's safe to say Guerlain has me longing for the glowing warmth of winter nights and the holiday season already. Have you tried anything from the collection?

*pr samples included.
October 21, 2015
MATTE LIP PREP

MATTE LIP PREP

Following up on yesterday's post on my new favorite matte lipstick formula, I thought I'd share with you my recipe for smooth glowing lips. It's the perfect way to prep the lips before wearing a bold or matte shade, to ensure that the colors always take the spotlight and that your lips are looking their best. 

Ever since discovering Sara Happ my lips have been consistently soft, smooth, and plump at all times. Her Gift Set, which I unashamedly suggest gifting yourself, contains two pots that equal the perfect base on which to apply your favorite lipsticks...or perhaps one of my favorites.

The Lip Scrub is an easy-to-use sugary sweet scrub for your lips that buffs off all of the dry skin on cracked areas, while leaving them with a moisturized feel. A lot of lip scrubbing methods leave your lips feeling tight and dry, and lead to even drier and more cracked lips down the road, but this one is gentle and provides a treatment for the lips. You simply wipe away the excess and apply her lip-enhancing balm, The Lip Slip, which leaves your lips looking nothing short of glowy. If you're a lipstick lover like me, you need this little duo in your life.

*pr samples included.
October 20, 2015
CHARLOTTE TILBURY MATTE REVOLUTION

CHARLOTTE TILBURY MATTE REVOLUTION

I will forever be a fan of lipsticks. They are one of those makeup items whose effects we see immediately; we all know what a red lip can do for the complexion. I personally love a more matte lip when it comes to wearing bolder colors, but despise the drying result some tend to have on the lips...something that needs to be avoided when there is so much attention on the area. It goes without saying I've sacrificed my love of bold colors in favor of moisturized and healthier looking lips, but since discovering Charlotte Tilbury's Matte Revolution formula, I don't have to. Praise the lipstick gods...

The difference between these lipsticks and regular matte formulas are the sheer, moisturizing, and buildable texture that they boast. Forget that dried out and caked on texture that you typically get with matte lipsticks. These are just as long lasting, but are sheer enough to give a buildable texture so that you can choose just how matte you'd like them to be. Charlotte's lipsticks contain moisturizing ingredients and 3-D light reflecting pigments that give the illusion of fuller-looking lips that are lit from within. These truly are one of a kind and really feel like cashmere on the lips, no drying texture here. What's not to love?

My favorite shades, and the ones I have shown here (in order, left to right) are: Bond Girl (a deep berry-raisin), Very Victoria (a modern tawny-nude), and Lost Cherry (a complexion-enhancing juicy cherry). I'm most definitely wondering what the other must-have shades are...comment away!

*pr samples included.

October 19, 2015
MY MUST-HAVES FOR ENHANCING, NOT COVERING

MY MUST-HAVES FOR ENHANCING, NOT COVERING

I've been on a minimal makeup kick as of late, and have been tailoring my routine around lightweight, but effective products that bring the glow. There's been a general movement surrounding lightening up the makeup load, which I find to be a very refreshing change of pace from the overly contoured cheeks of some unnamed celebs. There are a few brands who have laid the foundation of this movement, one of my favorites being Glossier, a major inspiration behind this post, and the voice of the "skin is in" mantra. This is a makeup trend I think we should all get behind...

The Prep - Of course, clean, fresh, and dewy skin are the basis of a routine that allows you to focus on enhancing instead of covering. It's true that in order for skin to look its best you have to look after it...all the time. But there are also things you can do that don't take much additional effort (pretend I didn't say that), that you do see immediate results from. 

I'm a mask fiend, and especially love the Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask during the fall when skin conditions are looking a bit more lackluster. This mask has an almost bouncy-cream texture, but more importantly it instantly boosts radiance and moisture. After using, I like to seal in all the goodness in with a milky spritz of the Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist, which has more of a lasting effect than most spray toners. As someone with combination skin, I'm always looking for a moisturizer that absorbs immediately and helps to prep the skin so that tons of makeup isn't necessary. The Glossier Priming Moisturizer does just that, all while giving my skin a silky smooth and plump feel. The best part is it sinks in immediately and cuts down any redness I have. Just a fair warning, this stuff is addicting...you'll want to have backups around.

The Makeup - Once I've prepped my base with my favorite skin-enhancing potions and lotions, I go in with a few makeup products that really help to further enhance the glow factor. It's so important not to go overboard here, because even someone with absolutely flawless skin will look overdone and lackluster with layers of foundation on. 

Once I discovered that breathable products were the secret to youthful and glowy (not-greasy) skin, I haven't gone back to fuller-coverage foundations, unless used sparingly. For daytime, the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint is perfect; it's more like a fluid tint than a foundation and gives just the right amount of coverage so that things look even, but still natural. I also love the finish that this gives, it's dewy in a satin-like way and it's obvious that it's working with your skin, not against it. I find that later on in the day no product has settled into crevices and lines, like heavier products tend to do. 

Cream blush and luminizer have become must-haves for me as well. I apply the Tata Harper Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint in Very Vivacious on the apples of my cheeks for a radiant flush, and then tap her Very Illuminating Highlight into any areas I want to make more prominent, like  my cheekbones and the inner corner of my eyes. I tend to keep these with me all day as well, because I find they work as a beautiful complexion pick me up instead of adding additional layers of powder or concealer. 

The rest of my routine is pretty simple; I swipe a creamy bronze shade of shadow across my lids and apply a colored balm or moisturizing lipstick for a hint of color. Lately I've been hooked on the Burberry Eye Colour Cream in Mink, an easy-to-apply bouncy powder, and the Ilia Lip Conditioner in Bang Bang, which gives a sheer wash of color that mimics that of freshly-fallen autumn leaves.

What are your must-haves for enhancing, not covering? If you're interested in snatching up a few of my essentials from this post, head to Glossier's site and get shopping.

*pr samples included.
October 15, 2015
THE BEST SALT SPRAYS FOR CREATING & KEEPING WAVES

THE BEST SALT SPRAYS FOR CREATING & KEEPING WAVES

I took the plunge and went for the chop guys. I wanted to even out my hair and be able to wear it a bit more messy on a daily basis while still having somewhat of a style,  so a textured lob was the obvious solution to my woes. And just like that, I'm back on the salt-spray bandwagon and couldn't be happier about it. My overly moisture-rich hair needs a bit of drying salt to make way for texture and a bit of a cool-girl vibe, and these are the spritzes that make the cut. Pun intended...

Sachajuan Ocean Mist - My personal favorite. It gives hair volume on top of more twist and texture than ever. It really mimics a day at the beach and the bit of grit it delivers helps to hold the style for prolonged periods of time. If you have extremely dry or brittle hair, this probably won't work as well for you.

John Masters Organics Sea Mist - This lavender-infused organic spray is just as good for your hair as it smells. I coat my hair in this and it never leaves a build-up or looks like I have too much product in. It really helps to enhance my natural wave and gives it a matte-effect. 

Bumble & Bumble Surf Infusion - Perfect if you have dry or damaged hair, this is the more nourishing oil-infused version of the brand's original cult salt spray. With a few sprays, hair looks tousled and soft, but never crunchy. Be careful not to over apply, it will have the opposite effect that you want it to. 

Oribe Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray - To me this is the Dry Texturizing Spray meets shiny beachy waves, and is seriously addictive. I love that it mists on shine while adding texture, and a kink to your natural hair. A few sprays of this on near-dry hair and the styling part will be taken care of for you. 

*pr samples included.
October 14, 2015
TSA-APPROVED BEAUTY PACKING

TSA-APPROVED BEAUTY PACKING

Fit it all. No sacrifices and no checked luggage. Hard to believe, but these simple and seemingly obvious tips are the key to fitting all of your necessities within the parameters of the 3-1-1 rule. In case you're unaware of said rule, that means all of your carry-on liquids must be 3 oz or less, and fit into only one 1 quart bag. If you do crack the code, you'll save major space and time and still take enough to ensure you look your best and feel at home throughout your travels.
  1. Minis, minis, minis - Of course, the number one way to save on space is to miniaturize your routine. I love minis, and purposely mark my calendar for good GWP opportunities so that I have them stored up when it comes time to pack. Another great way to get your hands on these is through monthly beauty box subscriptions and sampler kits. This way you get to literally road-test new products and also bring old favorites. Minis are not only great for long-haul trips but also for weekends away when you don't want to be weighed down by a million products that you can't detach yourself from. Oh, and handbag-friendly. 
  2. Disposable sachets - The tempting-to-toss disposable packets of product that you get with almost every single beauty-related purchase you make, are much more useful than you think. If you hate traveling without beauty additions like masks and luxe treatments, bring them in the form of these space-saving sachets. They are free, which is otherwise practically impossible in the beauty world. 
  3. Empty bottles - Even if you don't have any travel planned right this minute, purchase a set of clear, empty bottles now. When a last minute travel opportunity or business trip pops up, you'll be happy you have these around. Decant your favorites into these bottles and don't spend money on additional travel-sized products. The dollars you spend on this set will more than pay for itself within the first use. It's also really handy for when your favorites aren't offered in miniaturized versions, like foundations, which can easily be squeezed into one of the included pots to save on space in your liquids bag. And when it comes to toting fragrance, atomizers are the way to go.
  4. Maximize your partners space - If you're traveling with a partner, be it a significant other or close friend, split up the necessities between the two of you. For example, Bobby brings the cleanser and moisturizer and Betty brings the shampoo and conditioner. This way you can bring larger sizes of each product and not waste space by bringing each item twice. If you're traveling with your boyfriend (they tend to be less high-maintenance than us ladies) use what space they have left over for a bit of extra product. After all, sharing is caring.
  5. Bring powder beauty products when possible - It's important to remember that powders don't count in the 3-1-1 rule. If you're still struggling to fit your routine (beauty addicts, hands up!) into the one clear bag, separate your liquids and powder products into two piles, and switch liquids and creams for powders when possible. Powders are much more practical when it comes to traveling anyway, as they don't run the risk of spilling and ruining the remainder of your products with it. You can toss the powder products into a separate bag and forget about them until your arrival. 
  6. Bring two options for lips & eyes - Not 15. Bring one bold lip and one balm that doubles as your nude option. You'll be surprised at how crafty you can become when in need, and at just how many ways you can utilize that berry lip color. Of course, same rule applies for eyeshadow; bring one neutral shade and one dark shade that can be used as a liner, or for smoking things up come nighttime. 
Stick by these golden beauty-travel rules and you'll realize how much downsizing can do for you, and your travel experience. In the end you probably won't miss the extra lipstick anyways.
October 13, 2015
MY FALL NECESSITIES

MY FALL NECESSITIES


What I've truly been reaching for on a daily basis. Yes, I test many products on a regular basis (all in the name of research!), but here is what's made the "can't put it down" cut so far this season. The products that keep me reaching for them on a daily basis and help me keep my beauty game in check all week long.

For the face I've been loving a glowy, natural look. The littler foundation and makeup, the better my skin tends to look, so a base made up of the lightweight and glow-inducing Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense is essential. It's a lightweight, yet moisturizing and illuminating sunscreen, which is necessary for both everyday sun protection and anti-aging. My go-to base lately is the Givenchy Teint Couture Balm, which is somewhat of a skincare meets makeup hybrid product. It blurs imperfections while enhancing and preserving the skin's natural beauty by smoothing the texture with extended use. Surprisingly, the balm has a very fine and blendable texture that can be built up to the desired coverage by layering, but I find that one is perfect for smoothing out the skin tone and creating a healthy-looking base. For an added dose of glow, the Tata Harper Very Illuminating Highlight has been my first choice, as it's super subtle but powerful and healthy for the skin too. To cut down on any shine without the obvious look of a powder, the Tom Ford Transluscent Finishing Powder is my favorite. It gives a bit of a sheen without the shimmer and is so finely milled and silky that it's virtually undetectable on the skin.

For eyes I'm all about the easy way out, if I'm being honest. The Yves Saint Laurent Full Metal Shadow in #4 is perfect for creating a gilded lid that lasts all day and makes me look more awake. It's also so easy to apply it's almost ridiculous - fool proof! 

On the hair front, the Aveda Shampure Dry Shampoo has been saving my hair in between washes. I'm guilty of washing my hair almost everyday and am trying to make a conscious effort to do so less, and this is the only dry shampoo that has been helping me. The dispensing method is nothing short of genius; it's a non-aerosol, so with a squeeze of the bottle a fine cloud of powder mists out and onto the crown. It smells amazing and actually absorbs oil, instead of adding another layer of product onto my hair like most dry shampoos do. You need this in your life. 

And this past month has blessed me (cough, cough) with a bad sinus infection and large workload, so the Tata Harper Love Potion has been a much needed treat. I love the herbal meets floral aroma and feel so calm and relaxed when wearing this...even if I'm really the total opposite. It also makes a beautiful all-natural perfume if you're super ingredient conscious - it smells amazing and is said to give you an overall aura of attractiveness as well. Who doesn't want that?

*pr samples included.
October 12, 2015
WINTER IS COMING: TOP FIVE FACIAL OILS

WINTER IS COMING: TOP FIVE FACIAL OILS

Well, it's kind of coming. Soon enough we'll be in the depths of cold weather that seemingly will never end, and your skin is the first to show signs of the cooling temperatures. Dry, cracked skin is never excusable, because it doesn't look good (duh), it makes you look older, malnourished, more tired...you get the gist. One of the fastest and most effective ways to beat the dry spell is with a good, fast absorbing facial oil. I know the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the terms "oil" and "face" in the same sentence is not something pleasant, but hear me out as a fellow oily-skinned gal. The oils I'm about to share with you come at all different price points and are all amazing, absorb upon contact, and leave your skin looking glowing and youthful. Who could say no to that?

  1. Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil - This über lightweight oil will have to thinking it's a moisturizing serum instead of an oil. This is a no fuss facial oil perfect for oil-newbies and for all types of complexions, even oily, thanks to it's fast absorbing properties. It's 100% natural and derived from olives so it never clogs pores, but helps to noticeable even skin's texture, diminish spots, and give skin a youthful look while keeping moisture levels in check. 
  2. La Mer The Renewal Oil - The luxe oil for the Creme de la Mer junkies out there. This dual-phase potion is activated when shaken and does wonders to promote a glowing, smooth, and even-toned complexion. It contains the same miracle broth as the brand's cult creams, which, if you've tried before you'll know what kinds of dreamy things it can do for your complexion.
  3. Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil - An all natural silky dry-oil that helps to smooth and replenish skin while promoting a brighter and firmer complexion. The natural floral scent soothes the senses while calming even the most hot-tempered complexions. If you love the moisture and effects of an oil but hate the potential for grease, this is a must have for you. 
  4. Själ Sapphire Concentrate Anti-Aging Face Oil - A deeply nourishing anti-aging oil that acts as a regenerating treatment. This stuff is much more than an oil, as it is made up of an artisanal blend of essential oils and is infused with Himalayan blue sapphires and aquamarine that are known to promote calm, clear, and balanced skin. It also increases the elasticity of the skin while noticeable plumping up fine lines and wrinkles, making it great for everyday use as a way to prevent and treat signs of aging. 
  5. Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil - This all-natural antioxidant-rich oil acts as a serum and overall skin rehab. It's perfect for sensitive skin types, as it excludes any synthetics and fragrance of any kind, yet preserves and heals skin thanks to an infusion of Omega fatty acids and other essential vitamins. This stuff seriously helps promote overall skin health by reducing fine lines, aiding in elasticity, and reducing redness and irritability. Everyone should have a bottle of this handy for skin-emergencies. 
*pr samples included.

October 11, 2015
BODY CARE GETS A LUXE & NATURAL UPDATE

BODY CARE GETS A LUXE & NATURAL UPDATE

Sometimes nothing beats a good at-home spa moment. As nice as it is to head out to a luxe spot for a bit of pampering, straight from the tub is just as nice (and effective) when you have the right products to do it with. These two goodies from Kahina Giving Beauty should sit tub-side in every woman's bathroom for when she needs a moment to herself. 

Kahina Body Serum - Yes, a serum for your body in the form of a supremely moisturizing oil that smells perfectly spa-like and all natural. Chock full of Argan harvested from the women working in Morocco in the co-ops supported by the brand, this serum is a true treat for the skin. It has a beautiful texture that absorbs quickly and comforts the skin and senses, especially when applied on wet skin. I love the scent and how even-toned my skin looks after just a week of use. It's definitely a special occasion body moisturizer for when your skin is in need of a little extra TLC.  

Kahina Rosemary Lavendar Argan Soap - The cult-favorite soaps are now sold individually, allowing you to mix and match your favorite scents while supporting a good cause. These soaps are argan-based, meaning they are supremely moisturizing and will never strip your skin or leave it feeling tight or dry. It's also filled with real dried lavender and rosemary for the ultimate luxurious and natural skin treat. 

*pr samples included.
October 10, 2015
GROWN ALCHEMIST'S DREAMY AMENITY KIT

GROWN ALCHEMIST'S DREAMY AMENITY KIT

It's hard to edit down the essentials whether it be for weekends away or long-haul trips. I can't tell you how much I adore when brands offer hand-chosen products in miniature sizes in a kit that's perfect for taking along. The Grown Alchemist Amenity Kit is just that; it takes the guesswork out of beauty packing and still manages to be luxe, well-tailored, and free of harmful ingredients. I don't know anyone who couldn't make use out of this set - it has everything you need and nothing you don't. It's kind of like you should always have one on hand in case you need to pack up in a hurry. 

The kit includes a delicious full-sized version of their Watermelon and Vanilla Lip Balm, which is truly addictive. You'll want to eat this stuff, it's that good - it also packs a seriously moisturizing punch with just the right amount of shine. 

Combat dry hands with Vanilla and Orange Peel Hand Cream - it's non-greasy and has an equally enticing scent of oranges and cream. It sinks in right away which is a must for me, I hate having a sticky perfume film left on my skin after I moisturize. 

And for the face, the Camellia and Geranium Hydrating Cream is perfect. Grown Alchemist took a pared back approach to skincare here and I love it as much as my skin does. It's all natural and sinks in immediately, and makes a great base for makeup as well, meaning it's even more perfect for travel. You want as much moisture as possible without looking slicked, and anything that does double-duty gets taken along for the journey, no questions asked. 

Grab one of these kits now, you'll thank me later when you haven't a clue what to pack for your next trip. 
October 09, 2015
FALL HOME FRAGRANCES

FALL HOME FRAGRANCES

I'm a fragrance-girl through and through. It's a "betcha can't have just one" type of relationship, too. There are too many beautiful scents to choose from, but I definitely do still have my favorites. This is my home fragrance round up for Fall. A little bit feminine and floral, and a little bit masculine and woodsy is just how I like them. The ones I'm talking about here all have some serious throw as well, making them the perfect accompaniment to a cozy Fall night in with a bottle of red wine and a cashmere throw. I didn't just describe my Friday night to you or anything...

Diptyque Baies and Feu De Bois - Two of the famous French brand's most popular scents and for good reason. Baies smells of berries and roses with a bit of a green twist, and not at all sickly-sweet. Feu de Bois smells like a cozy winter night, where crackling firewood fills your home with warmth and embers. These are sure to be loved by everyone.

Byredo Bohemia - The dark wax is storied to be best at diffusing fragrance and this one in particular is beautiful. With notes of spicy rum, geranium, rosemary, opapanax, vanilla, sandalwood, and moss create a warm and heady fragrance that you want to cozy up to. It's soft and nonintrusive, but definitely noticeable and I like that I can distinguish different notes, especially the powdery floral vanilla with an underlying musky sandalwood pull. 

Cire Trudon Spiritus Sancti - The heavenly perfumes you tend to experience in a cavernous and medieval cathedral brought to life in one candle. I love scents that elevate the home, transporting you elsewhere and this is one of those. It smells like I imagine the streets of Florence had during the middle ages in the best possible way with notes of gold, incense, amber, vanilla, and olibanum. 

Antica Farmacista Damascena Rose, Orris, & Oud - A powdery, and woody rose scent that has pretty incredible throw. I love that it has a slight tartness to it, thanks to the inclusion of rhubarb notes. This brand specializes in home fragrances and diffusers, so you know they know what they're doing.

*pr samples included.
October 08, 2015
NATURALLY FULLER LIPS

NATURALLY FULLER LIPS


I don't know about you but to me the best way to maximize features is by doing it without being so obvious about it. For lips that means not wearing an obviously extreme amount of liner, lipstick, lipgloss, etc. These two products combined have been my go-to lip formula lately. I've almost been wearing these exclusively - which, for a lip product junkie, says a lot. I'm sure you can tell they're well-loved by the image above. 

Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Honey and Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk are a match made in plump lip heaven. The best part is that these are quite well-coordinated on their own, but they also look exactly like the color of natural lips. It looks like there's nothing but a sheer wash of lip balm overtop of the lips, and that yours are just youthful, rosy, and soft - what more could you ask for? I'm so obsessed that a repurchase is actually in order, which never happens.