Best Summer Scents (For Body & Home)

summer-fragrancesSummer fragrances are the best: light, airy, and when you apply just the faintest mist to your skin or hair, they are so beautiful. Same thing for your home: scented candles can gently scent a room (or two) with a faint fresh fragrance reminiscent of beach days and summer nights. Here are my favorite summer fragrances for body and home.

Body

1. Bobbi Brown Beach Eau De Parfum ($78): It truly smells like the beach without being overpowering. Summer in a bottle!

2. Jo Malone London Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne ($68-$135): This fragrance reminds me of fresh salty air, sea spray, and waves lapping ashore. It’s earthy and not overtly summer; I wear it year-round and it feels right.

3. Acqua Di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico Di Amalfi Eau De Toilette ($107): Inspired by the Amalfi Coast, this fragance is light, breezy, citrusy, and feminine. Notes of fig, bergamot, lemon, citron, grapefruit, pink peppercorn, fig wood, & cedar wood make it like a trip to Italy in a bottle.

Home

1. Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Candle ($65): If you like this enough to put this on your body, obviously it will be amazing scenting your home! Very expensive (for a candle, in my opinion), but a worthy splurge that feels so luxurious.

2. Linnea’s Light Sea Salt candle ($34): This smells incredible: fresh and uncomplicated. I love burning this in warm weather (often before summer even hits).

3. DW Home Marine & Sea Salt candle ($16): Another fresh summer scent. This one is a bit more richly scented than the other candles here, and I don’t like my scents very strong, so I actually stopped burning it about halfway through. I wish it was just slightly less intense because the scent itself is so pretty. I often find DW candles at Homegoods for about half the retail price.

4. Illume Fresh Sea Salt Diffuser ($28): I love a diffuser to scent a bathroom, and this is actually not just great during the warm months, but freshens up a space all year long.

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Megababe Rosy Pits Natural Deodorant

megababeLet’s talk about one not-so-pleasant-but-essential facet of the beauty world: deodorant. The search for a natural deodorant that works for me seems to be never-ending. I’ve been trying various products for the past two years (read my previous reviews here), but nothing has left me feeling totally satisfied–or stink-free. When I saw 5-star reviews across the board for Megababe Rosy Pits Deodorant ($18), I had to try it. Because although all previous brands I’ve tried have failed me, the days of putting toxic chemicals into my body are over. I’m so done with that, and not turning back no matter how long it takes to find a solution.

Instead of using aluminum and parabens to prevent sweating and mask odor, Rosy Pits prevents bacteria (which leads to odor) from forming on the skin with the use of natural antibacterial ingredients. Coconut and vitamin E extracts soften and soothe skin. Like all natural deodorants, this is not an anti-perspirant; odds are, you’ll still sweat lightly with this, but when you do, it won’t stink. Even better, your skin will be able to breathe and won’t get clogged with toxic chemicals.

First thing I noticed about this was the scent. It’s got more of an essential oil vibe to me (probably because it contains sandalwood and sage) than the fake, flowery, overly-scented traditional deodorant bars. The scent is very light, unique, and refreshing. I like it a lot.

Megababe-rosy-pits-2The first three weeks I used this, I sweat a lot. And I smelled. And it was a rough three weeks. So rough that I almost gave up and threw the damn stick in the garbage. On top of that, I got pit rash from this stuff, even though I was transitioning from a natural deodorant. A lot of brands that produce natural formulas say your body may go through pit detox (which can often include an underarm rash) as you transition from using a traditional deodorant, but I’ve experienced this with every natural formula I’ve tried.  I was a little bit surprised because I thought the culprit in natural deodorants was baking soda, but Rosy Pits is baking soda-free, so I’m not sure what caused the irritation this time. It was annoying and got really aggravated when I got sweaty during my workouts. Regardless, it cleared up in about 3 weeks, and when it did, the B.O. went away with it. I even put it to the test on a 90+-degree day with a bootcamp workout in a gym studio with malfunctioning air conditioning, and I was pleasantly surprised! In situations like that, it didn’t keep me 100% odor-free, but it was nothing horrible. In daily life, this works amazingly for me. So far, it’s the only natural deodorant I’ve tried that actually works.

The natural deodorants I’ve used before worked initially, then failed me. I’ve heard that some people need to rotate products to keep up their efficacy. We’ll see if that’s the case with this product. So far, I’m really liking it and will stick with it!

I’m always looking for recommendations. What is your favorite natural deodorant?

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Maybelline Total Temptation Mascara

total-temptation-mascaraIn the past, I’ve gotten flack in the comments for not reviewing enough drugstore mascaras. I’ve got nothing against drugstore mascaras, but in my experience, they just don’t do as much as “luxury” mascaras. There are a few exceptions to the rule but overall, budget mascaras just don’t pack as much of a punch on my lashes.

Maybelline’s new Total Temptation Mascara (approx. $10) reminds me a lot of L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara. Everyone seems to love Lash Paradise, but for me, it flaked a lot and made my lashes droop. I used maybe 1/4 of a tube before I gave up on it. I had very similar results with Total Temptation.

Pros: The thick, full, fluffy brush provided great application. It separated nicely from the root and gave my lashes a fanned-out, full look. I got the Blackest Black shade, and the formula is super pigmented and made my lashes ultra black. It removed easily with a makeup remover wipe. The pale pink matte packaging is nice, but immediately got dirty the minute I removed it from the box (the matte finish is like a dirt magnet).

Cons: The formula is thick and wet, and took awhile to dry on my lashes, causing smudges on my lids and undereyes. It also flaked and irritated my contact lenses. It didn’t really hold a curl; my lashes drooped within an hour after application.total-temptation-mascara-packaging

Bottom line: The product itself is nice enough, but not stellar. The cons are too many for me to stick with this mascara when there are so many other products that I like better. If you’re interested in a drugstore mascara, I highly recommend L’Oreal Original Voluminous.

Have you tried this mascara? What did you like about it?

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My Favorite Brow Pencil

nyx-micro-brow-pencilTo fill in my brows, I prefer a pencil to a powder or a tinted gel. I had faithfully used the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz pencil for years–until I discovered NYX Professional Micro Brow Pencil (around $10). It’s a great dupe for the ABH pencil, but at half the price.

The skinny tip of the pencil easily gets into the curves of the brow, and because it’s so thin, it allows you to mimic hair strokes on the skin. The opposite end contains a thin spoolie brush for blending (a necessity). It comes in a wide range of shades to match many brows: Taupe, Blonde, Auburn, Ash Brown, Chocolate, Brunette, Espresso, and Black.nyx-brow-pencil-taupe-ash-brownI used the Ash Brown shade before getting my brows microbladed in early 2017, and then I stopped using anything at all to fill in for more than a year. But as the ink has slowly started to fade, I started filling in for a more defined shape. Because the ink is still there, I lightened up to the Taupe shade of this pencil for a more natural look.nyx-micro-brow-pencilHave you ever tried this brow pencil? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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My Favorite Nude Lip Shades

If you’ve ever read my blog, you probably know I live for a nude lip. I pretty much exclusively wear a nude lip, as it goes with every makeup look. I also have a small mouth and don’t like to draw attention to that fact with a lot of bold color. Here are my favorite picks for nude* lips.

*Nude is a relative term to your particular skin tone! There is a whole world of flesh-toned shades out there; these are what work for me. I prefer a creamy, pale pinky-nude.

nars-turkish-delight-lip-glossNARS Lip Gloss in Turkish Delight ($26): If I had to pick one single lip product I couldn’t live without, it would be this gloss. For me, it is the perfect shade of nude with just the right amount of shine. I wear it almost every day.

charlotte-tilbury-lipstick-kim-kwCharlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Lipstick in Kim K.W. ($34): One of the prettiest shades of pale nude-pink that I’ve found. It’s pricey for a lipstick, but the product lasts forever (I wear mine all the time, have had it for a year, and it’s only about halfway done).

mac-lipstick-blanketyMAC Lipstick in Blankety ($18.50): I’ve been wearing this nude shade for as long as I can remember. It is my all-time favorite shade of nude, and the formula is so creamy.

IMG_5961MAC Lipstick in Creme Cup ($18.50): Same formula as above, and very similar in shade. (When I find a good thing, I don’t stray too far from it!)

chanel-rouge-coco-instinctChanel Rouge Coco Shine Hydrating Sheer Lipshine in Boy ($37): To me, this is like a lipstick-gloss hybrid, because it packs a lot of shine for a lipstick. There is a slight glossiness to lips after applying, which I love, because then I can skip applying gloss on top.

IMG_5915Beautycounter Lip Gloss in Bare Shimmer ($29): This shade definitely has more nude than pink to it, and it feels really tacky when I first apply it. But after it dries, it settles into a really flattering shade that looks just like my lips, but better, and it is comfortable and long-wearing.

What are your favorite nude lip products?

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Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer

BB-hairdresser-oil-primerI mentioned this in my post yesterday, and wanted to tell you more about this *amazing* product. This spray is my latest obsession. I thought it was too good to be true: a priming hair mist that protects against heat styling, conditions, detangles, tames frizz, and softens? It seemed impossible, but Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer ($29) is my hair’s new favorite thing.

Spritz this on hair post-washing, pre-blowdrying. I use a healthy allover mist to from root to tip. Then I brush it out with a Wet Brush and blowdry with a round brush. This helps to detangle, calm frizz and flyaways, and polish the hair. It softens hair and makes it look shiny. It also protects against heat styling (although I still use a separate heat styling mist before using a curling wand).

Although it’s suitable for all hair types, I’ve found that it works wonders on my color-treated (and damaged) hair. From all the years of highlights, heat styling, I have days where my hair looks really lackluster and damaged. This transforms it into hair that looks healthy, smooth, and shiny. I love this stuff.

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My Favorite Summer Hair Products

summerhair2018-3The long days, sunshine, warm weather, and vacations are some of the best parts of summer. But they also take a toll on your hair. I always switch up my haircare routine during the warmer months to help keep my locks looking as healthy and fresh as possible. Here are some of my favorite products for summer.

1. T3 Whirl Trio Styling Wand ($270): My favorite wand for beach waves. The hefty price tag is totally worth the quality and versatility of this styling wand (it’s basically three curling wands in one). I’ve had mine for two years and use it every single day. I usually use the largest (1.5-inch) barrel for loose waves, but sometimes I’ll also use the 1-inch for more of a curl.

2. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($46): I use this year-round. It’s my holy grail hair product. If you want beach waves, you need this.

3. Bumble & bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer Spray ($28): I mist this all over damp hair post-shower. It’s a heat protectant, leave-in conditioner, UV filter, detangler, and anti-breakage product all in one. Makes hair look super healthy.

4. UNITE Blonda Shampoo ($28): If you’re blonde, it can be difficult to maintain your color. Because it’s so porous from the bleach, blonde hair can get brassy easily, especially from elements like sun exposure and chlorine. Purple shampoo counteracts the yellow in brassiness, and creates a more icy/cool tone to your hair. This is my favorite one. Use once or twice a week, depending on your hair shade and type, to bust the brass.

5. Living Proof Restore Shampoo ($29): Summer is a good time to use damage repair shampoos because you’re outside more often and exposed to the elements. I like this one for its lightweight feel; although it’s a heavy duty moisturizer, it doesn’t weigh hair down.

6. Kristin Ess The One Signature Conditioner ($10): A lightweight, versatile conditioner for all hair types that makes locks super soft and shiny.

7. R+ Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo ($30): Dry shampoo is a summer must (who wants to wash their hair every day?). I like this because it pumps hair up with volume.

8. Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Creme ($20): My all-time favorite finishing cream, especially in summer, when it helps tame flyaways and humidity-induced frizz. The perfect finishing touch to any hairstyle. I apply mostly from mid-hair to ends.

What are some of your favorite summertime hair products?

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Kristin Ess The One Signature Conditioner

KristinEssConditionerSometimes great things come in unexpected packages. Case in point: Kristin Ess The One Signature Conditioner ($10), part of her line of haircare products available at Target. I tried out products from Ess’s line because I love her work as a celebrity hairstylist (I first saw her styles on Lauren Conrad’s mane years ago). She’s got great ideas and creates doable styles on all types of hair. I love following her tutorials and photos on social media, so I figured I’d bring some of her latest creations into my shower.

This conditioner is a total knockout. I am the last person to rave about conditioner; to me, it’s a product that’s necessary but not really worth of praise. It’s utilitarian. I’ve gotten pretty comparable results from drugstore and luxury versions, and haven’t ever found one that’s remarkable. But this conditioner made my hair SO soft without weighing it down (just make sure you rinse really well to get it all out of your hair) and healthy-looking. I have naturally medium-blonde hair with a very light blonde balayage, and my hair has sustained years of foil highlights, so my hair doesn’t necessarily look shampoo commercial-worthy. But this makes it shiny and soft while still being lightweight and not at all greasy or heavy. It’s really everything I could want in a conditioner. When my first bottle ran out and I didn’t have time to pick up a second one, I used a certain upscale brand conditioner from Sephora, and I had to go to Target immediately after showering because this one was so much better. It’s suitable for all hair types and is sulfate-free.

And speaking of packaging, that pretty pale peachy-pink bottle it comes in is pretty cute, too.

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Concealer Roundup

concealer-roundupOne of the most valuable things I learned as a teenager, when I first started doing makeup, is that a one-size-fits-all approach to concealer rarely works. People typically need different concealers for different skin issues, especially as they age.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have tried so many concealers within the last six months. While none of them were great for covering persistent cystic acne, many of them had awesome qualities that made them great concealers for other targeted skin issues. I wanted to share what I found when I tried these concealers.

Everybody’s skin is different, and reacts differently to products. So my recommendations here may not be suitable for you, or mean anything to you! Finding products that work for your skin is total trial-and-error.

1. Tarte Shape Tape Counter Concealer ($27): Still my go-to undereye concealer! I love this for all-around spot concealing, and highlighting high points of the face.

2. Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit ($38): I love that this is a concealer and pressed powder combo compact, so you have everything you need right in one place. This is amazing for mature skin, as it fully covers dark circles but doesn’t settle into skin or make it look crepey. It comes in a wide variety of shades to suit many skin tones, too.

3. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30): I love this concealer for the eye area. It’s so creamy and light, it glides on skin effortlessly with the doefoot applicator, and it blends seamlessly. Overall, a great pick for the eye area and face, if you don’t have serious skin issues.

4. Urban Decay All-Nighter Waterproof Full-Coverage Concealer ($29): The formula was on the thicker side, which is why I assume they call it “full-coverage.” While it is not sheer, it’s not really full-coverage, either. However, if you have minimal skin issues and just want to even out tone, this is a great option. It absolutely is long-wearing.

5. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer ($): Another one of the best for undereye concealing. Totally camouflages dark circles, and feels so light on skin.

6. MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($23): Another great option for all-around concealing. I used this religiously years ago, and recently revived it an attempt to cover breakouts. It’s incredibly long-wearing, smooth, and provides medium coverage. A great option for most skin types.

7. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout ($28): I had such high hopes for this, because in the past, this brand’s Bye Bye Redness really worked to conceal tough zits. This product, however, did not cover acne, and faded within hours. I wouldn’t recommend this for any skin issues, as it didn’t provide reasonable coverage and certainly was not long-wearing. Also, the formula was super thin as far as concealer goes.

8. Beautycounter Touchup Skin Concealer Pen ($32): This is nice for highlighting high points of the face but doesn’t provide much coverage.

Have you tried any of these? Which concealer is your favorite?

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The Greatest Concealer on Earth

amazing-cosmetics-amazing-concealerI haven’t talked about this at all, but 2017 was the year my skin completely freaked out. I developed adult onset acne–persistent cystic acne that formed deep within my skin and lasted for weeks to months. It was the worst my skin has ever been in my life (my teenage years were a breeze compared to this). How I got it under control is a story for another time, as it’s still an ongoing process, but how I dealt with covering it every day is what I’m talking about today.

The acne itself was very difficult to cover throughout all cycles of breakouts. The eruptions left lingering red marks on my skin that lasted well after the acne had healed. Concealing the acne and scars seemed impossible. I tried so many products that did nothing, and facing the world with a horrible complexion made me extremely self-conscious. I was at my wit’s end.

And then in early December, my mom gave me a beauty box filled with products, and tucked inside was Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer ($28). I figured I’d try it, because I was desperate.

amazing-concealer2Honestly, my life changed as soon as I blended it into my skin.

If you’re struggling with acne in any form, please read on!

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