January 29, 2016
FIVE PRODUCTS TO TRY FROM IT COSMETICS

FIVE PRODUCTS TO TRY FROM IT COSMETICS

I'm always experimenting with makeup, but lately I've noticed a few of my staple products come from one brand in particular - IT Cosmetics. The range is filled with options for every age and skin type and they work in a truly prescriptive manner. They offer quite a few products that tick all the boxes in terms of what I look for in makeup, but here are the ones that I think are perfect for newbs to the brand. You'll want to give these a second look... 

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Color Correcting Full Coverage Cream - I feel like lately, everyone has been raving about this full-coverage, creamy base. Now, hear me out. I'm not usually one for products with hefty coverage (unless it's concealer) but this one manages to blend seamlessly into the skin and, most importantly, feel like skin while offering a pretty hefty glow without any shimmer. It simply looks like healthy, flawless, fresh skin, which makes the product worthy of its name.

IT Cosmetics Hello Light Crème Illuminator - It's highlighter mayhem these days and with all the new launches on the market it can be hard to tell which is the right one for you. While I do love powder formulas when I'm looking to pack a punch, I find it's creams that tend to look the most natural and lit-from-within on the skin. This one is super lightweight, blendable and isn't at all tacky on the skin which is great for us combination gals. I also see the pearlescent nude shade working on a variety of skin tones.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush Silk Pressed Finishing Powder - Want a poreless finish? (The answer is yes, of course you do.) This really is the closest thing you'll get to that in a powder. It has serious mattifying capabilities, so I like to go in with a light dusting for makeup that lasts all day...and an oil-free t-zone.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye - A high coverage, corrective concealer with anti-aging benefits. I whip this baby out when I need a serious wallop of dark circle coverage or when the are is looking very dehydrated. My one world of advice is that it can move your other eye makeup if it's not set properly (some pressed powder will do!) - otherwise it's a dream.

IT Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol. 1 Eyeshadow Palette - This palette offers the best of both worlds in terms of shades. The mattes are easy to blend (thank you IT, love your non-makeup artist friend) with each other as well as other shadow textures. If you're looking to have add some mattes to your collection for crease purposes, this palette is perfect as it practically has a muted version of every hue. P.S. The one universally flattering pearl shade works to transform each shadow too.

And of course, an honorable mention goes to the Heavenly Luxe brush range, which really are, well, heavenly. These soft, synthetic brushes do some heavy duty blending and give airbrush-like finishes. I can't really wittle it down all the way, but some of my everyday favorites include the Flat Top Buffing Brush # 6, the Luxe Wand Ball Powder # 8, and the No Tug Dual Eyeshadow # 5.

*pr samples included.
January 28, 2016
GET READY WITH ME: EVERYDAY GLOWY LOOK

GET READY WITH ME: EVERYDAY GLOWY LOOK


My second ever YouTube video. Here I'm showing you a fun Get Ready with Me: Everyday Glowy Look edition. I'd love for you to watch and subscribe to my channel - search Necessary Nothings or click here!
January 27, 2016
MY CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE: EVENING EDITION

MY CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE: EVENING EDITION

In order to prevent things from getting seriously rambly, I've split up my skincare routine into two parts. For background on my skin type and to see my morning routine, click here. The real difference in my night routine is that it's much more focused on adding moisture, as I do love to wake up with a plump and juicy complexion. However, I find that this particular group of products manages to do just that but without being too heavy or ever causing breakouts. Win win, no? Here's what's currently made the cut in my evening routine...

TO REMOVE MAKEUP - Simply put, I've been using Simple Micellar Water since I discovered it last year. For me, it works as well as Bioderma or any of the more pricey waters, but it's just much easier on the wallet. And, in reality, this is the step where we should skimp, as the product only has one purpose; to remove unwanted makeup. For waterproof mascara days, it's all about the Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover. (It's the budget friendly dupe to the Lancôme and Clarins makeup removers everyone loves.)

TO CLEANSE - This past year I fell in love with a new cleansing balm. The sugar-based hydrating Sunday Riley Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm is nothing short of ah-mazing. It contains a mixture of soothing essential oils that help calm any irritations and (vanilla, chamomile, blue tansy) moisturizes deeply with cocoa butter and mimosa flower wax. It's a nice little ritual that I look forward to at the end of a long day, after I've removed the bulk of my makeup with micellar water. It leaves the skin soft, dewy, and never feeling stripped. 

TO TREAT - As I mentioned in my morning routine, this is the step where I'm the choosiest about what I'm slapping on my face. In the morning it's the Sunday Riley Good Genes, because it creates the plumpest, and cleanest feeling skin on which to apply makeup. It also manages to hydrate but also exfoliate away the dead skin thanks to lactic acid. For evening, however, I'm all about hydration and the Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum manages to do just that while also stimulating collagen production to diminish fine lines and brighten skin tone. It leaves my skin feeling velvety soft and contains absolutely no skin-aggravating ingredients - a definite bonus in my book. 

TO MOISTURIZE - Now, an additional moisturizer may seem a bit overkill at this point - and, yes, sometimes it is. Sometimes my skin just needs that extra bit of hydration and other times I don't want to overdo it. But, it's safe to say that no matter what else I apply, my skin practically drinks up the La Prairie Ice Crystal Emulsion. It's a lightweight moisturizer that sinks into skin immediately and leaves things feeling silky smooth. I love it

TO NOURISH - Possibly my favorite step of all is this oil. The Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil has been a lifesaver for me this winter. It's a retinol oil with a base of plant-based essential oils to help reduce pore size, repair the look of damaged skin, lines, wrinkles, and promotes an overall more clear complexion. I go in pretty heavy-handed with this, taking about four drops all over and my skin, and as a result it glows.

What products do you use in your everyday skincare routine?

P.S. I've recently created my first ever YouTube video! I'd love for you to watch and subscribe to my channel - search Necessary Nothings or click here!

*pr samples included.
January 26, 2016
HOURGLASS AMBIENT STROBE LIGHTING POWDER

HOURGLASS AMBIENT STROBE LIGHTING POWDER

It's here. I've been on a bit of a highlight spree lately, so you can imagine the excitement levels when my all time favorite setting powder (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder) churned out a sister highlighting product. Where's the heart-eyed emoji when you need him? Meet the newest addition to the Hourglass Ambient Light range, the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders, available in four colors and seen here in the shade Iridescent Strobe Light. The shade is a beautiful mix of soft pink pearl powders that, when applied, give a polished soft glow to the skin. It's love.

Like the other powder products in the Hourglass family, the Strobe Powder was also created using the same "Photoluminescent Technology, to capture and reflect light to refine skin." So basically, it's a soft super-finely milled powder that contains double the amount of micro-pearl particles than the Ambient Lighting Powders, helping to create a sheerer base and allowing skin to breathe through. No more thickly powdered and metallic cheekbones, like most other highlighters will give you. 

I personally love this powder, unsurprisingly. The finish is very sheeny, not at all glimmery, and still shows the skin beneath the powder which is right up my alley. The diffused glow is still noticeable, a characteristic of the Ambient range that I absolutely love - it manages to look like a filter on the skin, masking imperfections instead of drawing attention to them, and bringing to light features you want to. I also appreciate that these can be applied dry, like traditional powders, for a daytime appropriate glow...or wet, with the Ambient Strobe Light Sculptor, for a more intense highlight. The sponge can also be used wet or dry, as it's cut precisely to apply the highlight powder in the most natural way possible - perfectly blended each time. Consider it the BeautyBlender of the highlighting world...and your "strobing" must-have. 

P.S. I've recently created my first ever YouTube video! I'd love for you to watch and subscribe to my channel - search Necessary Nothings or click here!

*pr samples included.
January 25, 2016
MY CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE: MORNING EDITION

MY CURRENT SKINCARE ROUTINE: MORNING EDITION

An overflowing skincare stash is something I'm quite acquainted with. I'm constantly trying new products for the sake of "the blog" and always in search of the next best thing. I was always asking myself if I could be getting better results from something else, but never giving the current products enough of a chance to actually work their magic. So, for the past few months I've restrained myself from straying from an actual routine and my skin has definitely reaped the benefits of that. I've wittled down both my morning and evening routines to the products that I feel are doing something good for my skin. Any products I'm unsure of in terms of their benefits have been passed on, put back into storage as backup, or gone straight into the trash. Of course, I have my additional products that I like to call the "skincare extras", but other than that I no longer feel the need to have 900 moisturizers (for masks on the other hand...I still like a good variety). Here's what's currently made the cut in my morning routine...

TO EXFOLIATE - In the morning I'll go right in with a gentle clay based exfoliator to get rid of any gunk that may have accumulated overnight. The Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser has been a staple in my routine for the past four months or so - I'm addicted to the instant glow that it leaves me with and the fresh (and natural!) smell that helps to wake me up like nothing else. It's also creamy and moisturizing so it never leaves me feeling dry. 

TO TREAT - A good serum is what I find to make the biggest difference in my routine. My skin loves Sunday Riley Good Genes, a lactic acid treatment that instantly increases circulation and therefore plumps any fine lines and adds a dewy feel to my skin. I'm halfway through my first bottle and the improvement in the overall tone and texture of my skin is undeniable. It's generally brighter, smoother, and more youthful. I've got another bottle on backup already - it's a "can't live without" product for sure.

TO MOISTURIZE - My combination skin is hard to please in the moisturizer department. I need moisture in some areas, and not in others - so a light, but nourishing product is what my skin demands. This Verso Day Cream is great because it plumps up my skin while helping to keep breakouts and fine lines at bay thanks to the Retinol 8 (eight times more effective than typical retinols) complex it contains. For eyes I tend to stick to creams during the day only, and I've been loving the fluid serum-like texture of the Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum. The cooling ceramic tip helps to depuff eyes and the formula sinks into my skin almost instantly, creating the perfect creaseless base for makeup.

TO PROTECT - During the day, I've been topping it all off with a pea sized dollop of the Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen. I've become wary of the potential damage of sun exposure (though, my makeup usually includes SPF in some form) so adding this has been my good skincare deed. I've tried to stick to using them before, but only with this silky-smooth primer like potion have I been able to really do so. It even makes my makeup last longer and is a pleasure to apply.

What products do you use in your everyday skincare routine?

P.S. I've recently created my first ever YouTube video! I'd love for you to watch and subscribe to my channel - search Necessary Nothings or click here!

*pr samples included.
January 23, 2016
THE DO-IT-ALL SKINCARE PRODUCT

THE DO-IT-ALL SKINCARE PRODUCT

Do-it-all, you ask? Shiseido recently launched the Ibuki Multi-Solution Gel, a one-of-a-kind solution for stressed, rough, and breakout prone skin. If you've read my past skincare posts (and there are quite a few), you'll know that I have combination skin that can be oily in the t-zone and dry on my cheeks and chin. Overall, my skin tends to be clear but I definitely do get the odd blemish especially after travel, temperature changes, or if its that time of the month. *Sighs.*

What makes this such a great all-rounder product is just how many uses it offers. It's been a constant in my skincare routine since its arrival and for good reason. This hydrating memory gel helps enhance skin's natural moisture factors and fight breakouts and can be used as a spot treatment, moisturizer for acne-prone skin, with other moisturizers, or even layered over makeup on-the-go.  

As someone whose skin dries out easily from normal spot treatments, I was pleasantly surprised by the soothing properties of this breakout banishing and moisture-inducing hero. It never leaves the surrounding area dry or flakey and sinks in quickly leaving a satiny finish. The small 1 ounce container will be perfect for taking anywhere...and that's exactly what I'll be doing.

*pr samples included.
January 22, 2016
CURRENT MAKEUP BAG

CURRENT MAKEUP BAG

Hey guys! I published my first YouTube video. Here I'm giving you a peek at what's inside my current makeup bag.
LAURA MERCIER CANDLEGLOW SOFT LUMINOUS FOUNDATION

LAURA MERCIER CANDLEGLOW SOFT LUMINOUS FOUNDATION

When the words "glow" and "foundation" are combined in the same sentence the beauty world practically falls to their knees. When I first heard that Laura Mercier was launching a new foundation meant to mimic the effects of candlelight on the skin, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a bottle of the stuff. I'm sure I'm not alone there; this foundation promises an ultra-lightweight, medium coverage finish that gives a soft-focused glow to the skin in any light. Please tell me, what about that doesn't sound like the most perfect base ever? Here's how it lives up to its claims...

My first impression of the foundation was how natural it looks once blended into skin, and how close a match the shade Vanille is for my pale, wintry complexion. I found that this looks best when applied with fingers first and then finished off by bouncing around a damp BeautyBlender. It's thin in texture, but manages to look satin in finish and not matte, which often happens with more fluid bases. Once it's applied (after using the BeautyBlender), I can't actually feel the product on my skin and in terms of seeing the product, it's a "my complexion, but better" look, which is pretty fabulous. I love that it's not overly moisturizing, which is one thing I worry about whenever I hear the word "luminous" - in fact, it's perfect balance for my combination skin that tends to be slightly dry in winter. The base earns another bonus for the fact that it adds luminosity without any noticeable shimmer particles, even in broad daylight.

For me, this is pretty much a perfect everyday foundation. However, I would say the coverage is lacking a little; it's definitely more a light to medium coverage than a full-on medium. (Personally, I like that, because I touch up any imperfections with concealer later.) Basically, if you're looking to mask major blemishes, this isn't going to be your guy. But, if you're looking for something very skin-like in nature, that brightens the complexion without any shimmer, and feels like you're wearing nothing at all - this is for you. 

*pr samples included.
January 21, 2016
CHARLOTTE TILBURY NOCTURNAL CAT EYES TO HYPNOTISE

CHARLOTTE TILBURY NOCTURNAL CAT EYES TO HYPNOTISE

As far as makeup goes, I tend to remain most loyal to eyeshadow products. That's the lazy girl in me shining through; once I find ones that are easy to work with for everyday, I'll usually stick with them no matter how many additional products find their way into my stash. You'd be right to assume that darker, smokier shades don't tend to fall under that category, although smokey eyes are one of my favorite makeup looks (ever) - they just tend to err more on the side of time consuming.

Luckily, if you're like me, the Charlotte Tilbury Nocturnal Cat Eyes to Hypnotise cancel out all of the thoughts you had previously regarding dark, bold eyeshadows. Each Noturnal Cat Eyeshadow comes paired with a perfectly matched Rock 'n' Kohl Eye Pencil, taking the guesswork out of color matching. The pigments in the eyeshadows are all rich, almost black-based, with duo-chrome 3-D metallic shimmer running through. On the lid the colors change in complexity and luminosity in different light, which I love. Not to mention, they are foolproof to apply and are perfect for creating a feline shape, especially when paired with the smooth, creamy, long-lasting eye pencils. 

Have you been hypnotized by Charlotte's shadows yet?

*pr samples included.
January 18, 2016
GUERLAIN SPRING 2016

GUERLAIN SPRING 2016

If there is one brand I know I will always love everything from, it's Guerlain. I've always been infatuated with their beautiful packaging, pearly pigments, and that dreamy scent. Not to mention, the brand is steeped in luxury and tradition and continuously introduce some of the most innovative products worthy of getting excited over. This particular collection is chock full of glow-inducing goodness, with two new additions to the beloved Météorites line, and is even peppered with a bit of the unexpected. Here are my thoughts on the pastel-hued spring offering, so you can judge for yourself how many precious dollars you'll be parting with at the Guerlain counter...

Guerlain Météorites Base - Perfect, almost translucent, skin is in right now and this primer will bring you as close to that look as possible. The hefty glass jar is filled with complexion correcting pearls of light in a fresh gel formula. Just one pump leaves my skin feeling smooth and matte, but looking dewy and radiant all day long.

Guerlain Météorites Voyage Powder Compact - Isn't it beautiful? This is the product that gave me butterflies when I first saw it. I am such a fan of the original Météorites formula and this illuminating powder is comprised of 5 shades of micro pearl pigment for the perfect on-the-go glow. The shimmer is subtle in this finely-milled powder and I love the overall incandescent effect it brings to the face; highlighting all of the right features and helping to fade and correct blemishes. The compact is pricey, yes, but it's heavy, beautifully made, and can be refilled when the powder is all gone (& trust me, it will be). Consider it the only powder you'll need this spring...

Guerlain Rose Aux Joues Smile Blush Duo - This blush duo really does put a smile on my face. The red case houses one soft pink shade and one true rose with a hint of ultra-fine shimmer that brightens the cheeks beautifully. I've been swirling both together, adding a dose of healthy color to my otherwise very pale complexion lately. I imagine this working even more beautifully when I have a bit of color come spring. Can't. wait.

Guerlain Ecrin 1 Couleur Enjoy Long-Lasting Eyeshadow - A pale, but warm golden shadow that adds a brightening sheen to the lids. The packaging is beautiful, but I do have many similar products in my stash, which makes this the 'leave it' of the collection in my opinion.

Guerlain Le Crayon Yeux Water Resistant Long-Lasting Kohl Liner - I wasn't expecting to be floored by yet another eyeliner, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. The smooth gel formula glides on so easily, it makes drawing a non-wonky line cake. The color selection is wonderful as well, with pencils available in the classic black and brown, but also a beautifully wearable blue, purple, and olive (my personal favorite). Once you scribble this on it won't be going anywhere all day. Score.

*pr samples included.
January 15, 2016
THE ANTI-HANGOVER SKINCARE REGIME

THE ANTI-HANGOVER SKINCARE REGIME

Now, I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but mid-twenties and I'm already feeling the effects of a drink or two and a late (er than 11pm) bedtime. Yikes! Every time I do go out, I practically pay for it days later - you'll find me chugging gallons of water and trying to get back on track sleep wise. Not to mention, my skin looks nothing short of gray the next morning...which brings me to my arsenal of anti-hangover skincare products. These lotions and potions are really my only saving grace post night-out. For all of those on the same page as me, here are some products to cure your puffy-faced, drab-skinned selves the morning after the night before. 

TO REFINE - Omorovicza Refining Facial Polisher. This is a very pricey exfoliator, indeed, but it's also the best and gentlest one I've ever tried. Even those who tend to shy away from manual exfoliators will love this as it manages to be as soothing as it effective. It includes marine micro-algae to brighten and natural pumice to polish and renew. Skin is left with a seriously enviable glow and feeling smoother than a baby's bum. 

TO MASK - Sisley Express Flower Gel. Your freshly buffed face deserves a follow-up mask to breathe new life (and vitamins) into skin. The lightweight gel can be smoothed on to fight fatigue and stress, add moisture, and brighten and plump. The best part? The job is done in just three minutes and removal is a cinch...a mean feat. 

TO MOISTURIZE - La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Cream. This cellular-complex infused cream melts into the skin on contact, instantly restoring the appearance of fine lines and retexturing. It's a truly soothing and protecting treatment that leaves skin glowing...and the effects get even better with extended use.

TO TREAT - Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel. This fun-textured bouncy gel is a multi-tasking gem. Any of the remaining effects of last night - be it enlarged pores, breakouts, dehydration, or rough texture - can be treated with a swipe of this lightweight product. Apply it as the last step in your routine, or even atop makeup, for an extra kick.

*pr samples included.
January 13, 2016
THE ONE POWDER PALETTE YOU ACTUALLY NEED

THE ONE POWDER PALETTE YOU ACTUALLY NEED

Yes, need. Allow me to introduce you to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit. I've been a fan of the Hourglass Ambient everything formulas since they've introduced their original Ambient Lighting Powder. Before that, I found that so many powders that added luminosity also drew attention to imperfections, instead of away from them like these powders do.

I've previously reviewed the powders, the blushes, and the bronzer as well. I love all of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting products as they have similar factors in common - superb pigmentation, add a beautiful glow in natural light (and photography) that doesn't resemble a disco ball and act like an Instagram filter in real-life makeup form. I could go as far as to say they are my all-time favorite powder formulations that I use on a daily basis.

This palette in particular is such an amazing product. I received this about a month ago and used it all throughout the holidays and even took it with me traveling. The compact is flat and includes a large mirror that is especially handy when traveling and contains all of the powder products you could possibly need. There are six powders in total: Iridescent Strobe Light (palette exclusive), Dim Light, Diffused Light, Luminous Flush, Mood Exposure, and Luminous Bronze Light.

Have you tried this yet?
January 12, 2016
GIVE YOUR HAIR A REFRESH

GIVE YOUR HAIR A REFRESH

New Year, new....shampoo? Yes, actually. By now we've all heard about the possibility of our shampoo giving up on us (it stops working) after using it for an extended period of time. Like skincare, it's important to read our hair and to use intuition to tell what it needs. Like it does with our skin, different levels of oil production will affect the condition of your strands. Try a once a week clarifying shampoo, moisture-rich products in the dry months, and not-so oily products in the humid months. You feel me?

With that said, I've gone ahead and switched up my hair routine a bit. Mine was getting a bit...drab. I'm in  the midst of the awkward in-between length period of hair growth - awaiting the morning I wake up with much longer hair. Right now, it's neither long nor short, which is never the look I'm after. But, I digress. After a few weeks of using the Davines Dede Shampoo & Conditioner and the Minu Hair Mask once weekly for deep conditioning, my hair feels refreshed. Since I've made the switch it feels lighter, bouncier, and swingier with a bit more texture. 

The lightweight portion of the change can be attributed to the fact that I had been using a shampoo for adding moisture, which was weighing down my hair. This one is for normal hair, which is more closely aligned with my hair type. The new formula has helped clear buildup and breathe new life into my previously limp locks.

I think this whole change thing is going to become the new norm. 
January 11, 2016
SAVE FACE WITH OILS

SAVE FACE WITH OILS

The second week of the New Year has begun and you're still looking dull. The holidays have a way of bringing about a bit of anxiety and displaying it on your face; and recovery may seem improbable. So if you haven't joined the oil movement yet, it's time to get on the bandwagon now. Here are the three oils that have changed my skin and happen to all work in perfect harmony.

La Mer The Renewal Oil - This quick absorbing dry oil leaves skin plump, bright, and smooth. The non-greasy texture makes it friendly for both day and nighttime use, which is hard to come by. This oil contains the brand's famous Miracle Broth, meaning it's intensely moisturizing and aids in production of collagen for a firmer, more youthful and healthy appearance. (In-depth review here.)

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil - This retinoid oil is your night routine's new best friend. Luna helps to reduce the appearance of pores, scars and damaged skin, leaving it more radiant. It contains potent antioxidant, cold pressed and vegan essential oils, but the inclusion of chamomile and blue tansy help soothe and calm any irritations overnight. A total game changer. (More Sunday Riley goodness here.)

Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum - A rich, deeply nourishing oil that contains 22 active botanicals that help fight stimulate cell turnover, help fight aging, maintain skin elasticity, and deliver oxygen to cells. Great for all skin-types and as a moisturizer booster, it protects and brightens the skin for a more supple appearance - all housed in a violet glass jar that allows only sunlight that will help activate the serum, in, helping to preserve the natural formula. Genius. (More of my go-to oils here.)
WINTER IN TUSCANY

WINTER IN TUSCANY


Okay, okay - so I may be slightly obsessed with photos of Tuscan landscapes and all things Italy. But come on - do you blame me? It's like a real-life Pinterest board and I certainly ain't complaining about that. While staying in Florence for New Year's, we carved out some time to also visit the surrounding Tuscan countryside and a few of its' finest cities.

I've visited these places before, but as I mentioned in my previous Italy posts, I had to show my boyfriend my favorite places on his first trip to Italy. So we headed out to Siena, a beautiful winery and organic farm in Chianti, and then made stops in San Gimignano and Pisa - if only for the corny tourist shots (which I'll spare you here). I apologize in advance if you get the sudden urge for a gelato and glass of red wine...

There's something so charming and peaceful about Tuscany during the winter months; when the tourists have subsided if only for awhile, and there's room to breathe and enjoy the old world feel of the streets. It's also the perfect time to tuck inside a small, warm trattoria for a warm plate of homemade gnocchi and a glass of Chianti. Nothing beats it.

Should you find yourself in Florence, or anywhere in Tuscany, I recommend taking a trip to the very quaint Fattoria Poggio Alloro near San Gimignano for a wine tasting and lunch. So, for now I'll leave you with these photos - until next time, Italy. Or, arrivederci...

Also take a look at part 1 and part 2 of my Italy travel diary. For trip recommendations, see my Florence guide here.  
January 08, 2016
THE BEST OF: MAKEUP THAT DOUBLES AS SKINCARE

THE BEST OF: MAKEUP THAT DOUBLES AS SKINCARE

Yes, makeup as skincare. It's been done before, but have those renditions made you want to put down all of your heavier products? The goal is to do something good for your skin while you also have some sort of instant gratification from your products; exactly what the following must-haves will do for you. Consider using more skin-loving beauty products your 2016 resolution!

The Base - This might be the trickiest product to compromise on. You want coverage, you want breathability, freshness, and glow - and you definitely don't want a heavy paste that actually makes your natural skin look worse or as though it's not there at all. You're not alone, we all want those things. Which is why this is the most important step. Marc Jacobs Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer preps skin with a hydrating gel like wash of moisture that's infused with nourishing coconut oils. Don't tell anyone, but on rushed mornings I've been known to use it in place of a moisturizer and I can say it truly helps my makeup to look more smooth and fresh. 

On days I want a lighter coverage I'll reach for the Chanel CC Cream, which boasts velvety (read: not greasy) medium coverage and an SPF of 50.  It's exactly what I want from a CC cream and more - almost as though you've hand mixed your foundation with your favorite (and most luxurious) moisturizer. And of course, theres the more full coverage option. One you'd have to splash out for, but that's so worth it in the end. The La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation contains the brand's famous and skin-changing Caviar extract; so your skin is being treated with supreme anti-aging and anti-oxidant benefits while you look flawless. Not to mention, you only need the tiniest dab of this rich and moisturizing foundation to cover flaws - and the concealer shade is already matched for you. Does it get any easier (or more luxe) than that?

The Color -  Of course, to look fresh and radiant, you can't skip a pop of color on the cheeks (and lips!). La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Blush is an uber rich, skin-perfecting, glow-inducing cream blush that enhances the texture of the skin with extended use. Since you now know that each product from the brand contains a luxe blend of anti-aging ingredients, you'll know that this one is no different. The beautiful pigments impart a supremely natural looking flush that won't settle into find lines or ever look overdone. Oh - and did I mention it comes in its own leather case. That's when you know it's gotta be good. 

If you're into all natural products, or are looking for a multi-tasker, the Tata Harper Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint is another favorite of mine. It's a bit on the thicker side, so definitely go easy on application, but it does produce a beautiful color on the cheeks and lips and comes in a teeny-tiny pot quite good for travel.

If you're looking for a nourishing lip color that imparts a natural hint of rosiness - the Aerin Rose Lip Conditioner is really stunning. I also sort of love that you don't need to dip your finger in it. Bonus.

The Extras - For additional touch-ups, or for banishing dark circles, try the La Prairie Light Fantastic Cellular Concealer Brightening Eye Treatment. It adds the benefits of an eye cream into a lightweight, blendable concealer that helps reduce puffiness and reduce under-eye bags like no other. And, for an unbeatable on-the-go pampering duo, I love the La Prairie Anti-Aging Eye & Lip Perfection A Porter. This one pot contains two compartments; one illuminating eye gel that erases lines and brightens the area, and one lip balm with plumping benefits.

What are your go-to makeup products that double as skincare?

*pr samples included.
January 07, 2016
SUNSET IN FLORENCE

SUNSET IN FLORENCE

After a long few days exploring Florence - which, in my opinion, never gets old - we decided it was time to do something a bit more relaxing. Exploring the Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace during sunset was just what we needed. So, after devouring a pizza (each!) and a bottle of Chianti from my favorite, Gusta Pizza, we headed across the way and began our hike up to the top of the gardens for a dose of nature and bit of fresh air. 

The weather during our trip was very typical of winter in Florence. Warm when the sun is out, dropping around 15 degrees as the sun sets. The drastic changes throughout the day did prevent the coat from coming off, but that's quite okay with me as it was still a bit warmer than here at home in Connecticut. The rose garden was still partially in bloom and the Cypress trees fragranced the surroundings with a pleasant, woody scent - something I always take note of when in Italy. 

Along the way we bought a bottle of wine at a grocery store to uncork once we snagged ourselves a bench in the gardens. It's one of my favorite memories from the trip, looking back now; the sun falling slowly into the hills, lighting up the city with a terracotta glow. There's really nothing quite like it.

For tips and recommendations of where to explore while in Florence, refer to my guide here. Of course, I couldn't fit every single restaurant and place I love to visit while in the city of the Renaissance there, so if you have any other questions...ask away in the comments!

Wearing: Chloe Small Marcie bag, Tory Burch boots.