Products I’m Loving Right Now

I have a few new products in my makeup bag that are in heavy rotation. Here is a look at what I’m loving and why.

Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold Highlighter Palette ($58): My overall favorite new discovery. This became a holy grail product for me the second I brushed one of the three metallic powders on my cheekbones. The finish is gorgeous and glowy without being glittery; it’s more subtle than the Becca highlighters I used to love, but the effect is still prominent. My skin looks like it glows when I wear this. I LOVE.

Pat McGrath Labs FetishEYES Mascara ($28): Snagged this from Sephora as soon as it launched, and so happy I did. The full, straight brush evenly coats lashes in a formula that’s slightly wax (i.e., not too thin/wet) and creates buildable volume in an inky black pigment. It’s fast-drying, lasts all day, and doesn’t flake.

Benefit RollerLiner ($22): My new favorite liquid liner is super pigmented, glides on lids smoothly with no tugging, and once it sets, it lasts all day. This one takes a little extra time to remove at night, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful wear I get throughout the day.

Charlotte Tilbury Beach Lip & Cheek Stick in Las Salinas ($45): This pretty pink blush is creamy and blendable. It gives a beautiful flush on the cheeks, and a nice tint of color on the lips. It’s perfect for summer, as the finish is on the sheer side and mimics the natural flush of my skin when I spend a bit of time in the sun.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90): Because it’s so expensive, I purchased the mini version of this skincare product to give it a try (I got the Night Bright set from Sephora). I was super disappointed at first, because it caused a horrible cycle of never-ending breakouts on my skin. I hoped that it was my skin purging itself of all the gunk I didn’t even know was there, as I heard this could happen. I got so frustrated, I almost gave up (seriously, my skin had never been worse in my life). Then, just shy of a month later, my skin cleared up. I’m really happy with the natural glow that this gives my skin, and feel like this product was the first step in FINALLY developing a skincare regimen for myself.

Posted in Face Products, Makeup Bag Staples, Mascara, Obsessions, Skincare | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kari Gran Lip Whip Duos for the Holidays

kari-gran-lip-whip-duoKari Gran is known for her line of clean skincare products and cosmetics. One of her signature items is Lip Whip, a creamy, hydrating, beeswax-based balm that actually heals dry lips instead of just masking the symptoms. Lip Whip is available as a colorless balm, and in a variety of shades ranging from nude to bold. And now, for the holidays, it’s partnered with several other products in limited-edition gift sets. The one I’m most excited about is the Lip Whip Perfector and Tinted Lip Whip Duo ($38), a pair that heals chapped lips and preps them for the tinted balm.kari-gran-lip-perfector-lip-whip

IMG_8442This package arrived on my doorstep at the best possible time. Since the temps dipped here in Philly, my lips have been a hot mess: chapped, flaking, cracked, bleeding–not cute. The first thing I reached for was the Perfector, to try to get my lips in decent shape. This didn’t disappoint. It’s a sugar scrub that you can use as a quick treatment or let it sit on lips a little longer and use it as a mask for extra hydration. I gently rubbed this on to buff away the flaky skin of my chapped lips, then left it on for five minutes for an extra dose of moisture. When I wiped it off with a clean tissue, it completely sloughed away all the gross dead skin on my lips; I swear, my lips looked brand new after just one application.

kari-gran-lip-whipThe Lip Whip in this set is a barely-there blush pink balm that looks like your lips, but better. The color is beautifully sheer, especially if you like a nude or pale pink lip. The formula is incredibly hydrating without being sticky or feeling greasy. Both products are peppermint-scented, so they feel fresh, too.kari-gran-lip-duo

If you’re struggling with dry lips this winter, this is a great solution. It’s also the cutest package to leave under the tree, complete with a pretty sleeve on which you can write the recipient’s name!

The product in this post was provided by the brand for consideration. Promotional products in no way guarantee a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Lip Service | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How High-maintenance Are Lash Extensions?

lash-extensions-101Today’s post comes all the way from Australia. Melissa Bergen was one of the first to bring eyelash extensions to Australia and has since opened The Lash Spa on Australia’s Gold Coast, a salon which aims to provide great lash extensions and brow sculpting along with a relaxing spa-like experience. Thanks to Melissa for writing today’s post!

Getting lash extensions for the first time ever and you are not sure what to expect? That is
pretty common. If you want to know about their maintenance level, as well as the perfect morning and nighttime lash routine, you are at the right place! This article will help you determine whether these are or are not your ideal solution.

The Lash Spa on Australia's Gold Coast

The Lash Spa on Australia’s Gold Coast

Lash Maintenance
Lash extensions are ideal for you, as long as you don’t mind the following six rules:

1. Makeup Removal
Always use an oil-free makeup remover since this is the best kind for your lashes. Also, don’t use any cotton since it can get stuck in your extensions. Use lukewarm water and gentle patting instead of rubbing motions when removing your makeup, and a clean towel.

2. Use a Lash/Brow Spoolie
This is a small comb/brush (usually dual-ended) that you can use to comb through your lashes. This is a good idea for your morning and nighttime routine. It will also help you separate your permanent extensions and will prep them for the next makeup application. If you don’t have a spoolie, you can also use a clean and disinfected mascara or brow wand to comb them through.

3. Be Gentle
Never tug, rub, or pull on your lashes! This rule is crucial if you want to make them last as long as possible. Once you get them done, make sure you are patient and really gentle during the first 48 hours since in this period the glue will need more time to set. Once it is completely dry, you will be able to go back to your everyday routine.lash-spa-1

4. Sleep Differently
Ever tried sleeping on your back? If not, now might be the perfect time for it! Why? Well, it is not only great for your back and your posture, but it is also the best sleeping position for your face and your lash extensions! This way, nothing will come in contact with them, and they will last you a bit more than expected. Another great tip is sleeping on satin sheets since this fabric is very gentle, which is ideal for your lashes, and your skin as well.

5. Avoid Mascara
Ironically enough, lash extensions won’t demand any mascara at all. Luckily, they are voluminous on their own and will look glamorous at any given point of the day! Also, applying constant pressure and layers and layers of your mascara can cause them to fall out or to rip out, which you should avoid. If you really have to, ask your lash esthetician for their top choice and a highly recommended option. In some salons, lash experts have their own mascaras that are built for their lash extensions.

6. No Heat
As little exposure as possible, please! Women should stay away from the sun, long hours at the beach, saunas, pools, or any humidity. These conditions might cause your lashes’ glue to fall out sooner than expected. If you have to come in contact with any of these, try to keep exposure to a minimum.

Have you ever had lash extensions? Feel free to share any additional maintenance tips in the comments! Thanks to Melissa for today’s post.

Images via The Lash Spa

Posted in Mascara | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash: The Best New Mascara For Dramatic Lashes

hourglass-caution-extreme-lash-mascaraThis post has been sitting in my drafts since August, waiting to be finished and published. Life and work took over, and I’m just now getting around to posting this, but it’s still relevant because you need to know about this mascara!

I ordered the new Caution Extreme Lash Mascara by Hourglass ($29) the day it was available. Photos online showed women with thick, full fans of lashes looking impossibly long due to the volumizing/lengthening formula.

The first time I pulled the wand from the tube, I thought I was going to be disappointed because my favorite types of mascara wands are fluffy and full. This brush is on the thinner side, with a tapered tip. I thought for sure it wouldn’t work for me, but I was so wrong.

After the first swipe, I knew instantly it was TOTALLY worth all of the buzz it’s been getting. My lashes were intense. This mascara is really black — probably the blackest mascara I have ever used. When I’m wearing this, my lashes look incredibly long and full, partly because they’re so black. It is definitely a dramatic mascara. This isn’t what you swipe on before hitting the gym; this is a mascara for those moments when you want your lashes to be noticed (or, in my case, for everyday wear!).

For me, this mascara is more volumizing than lengthening. Lashes look thick from the first coat, but the more coats I piled on, the shorter my lashes appeared; they looked a little stubby from product buildup at the tips. For me, two coats is a good number (but the effect is drastic after just one!).

The sole drawback is that it can get a little messy on lashes — not exactly clumpy, but closer to a spider lash effect. I almost always have to comb through my lashes after applying, or else some lashes stick together. It looks so much cleaner after combing. Throughout the day, I do occasionally get some flaky fallout, but it’s rare.

When I got the package in the mail and slipped the tube out of the carton, I hated it. It’s gold (which I love), but it’s shiny, and gets super dirty after about two seconds of touching it. Fingerprints everywhere. That is the sole reason I did not include my own photographs of this product — the tube literally looked so dirty and smudgy in photos, there was no way I could post them.

Aside from the packaging (and the name, which for whatever reason isn’t easy to remember correctly), this is one of the best mascaras on the market — if not the best. If you love look-at-me lashes, go buy this immediately! At $29, it is expensive, but to me, it’s worth it for the look of false lashes without the hassle of actually applying false lashes. This and the new NARS Climax mascara are my two current favorites, and in my opinion, the best new products to hit the market in years.

Have you tried this yet? If so, what do you think?! Do you love it as much as I do?

Image via Nordstrom

Posted in Mascara | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cozy Fall Scents for Your Home

cozy-fall-scentsFall is my favorite time of year. Along with all of the beautiful colors found in nature and the autumnal decorations with which people adorn their homes, some of my favorite things about the season are the scents that go along with it. Here are my favorite ways to bring quintessential autumn scents into your home.

1. Illume Rustic Pumpkin Ceramic Pumpkin Candle ($27): To me, pumpkin candles say fall; this one smells lovely and doubles as a decoration.

2. Nest Pumpkin Chai Candle ($42): Sweet and pumpkiny, with a bit of spice from notes of chai layered in.

3. Thymes Heirlum Pumpkin Diffuser ($50): This would look so chic perched on a bathroom shelf, and will scent the space for months.

4. Illume Copper Leaves Ceramic Acorn Candle ($27): Aside from smelling warm and comforting (like roasted chestnuts and cinnamon), this acorn-shaped candle with its copper lid will look beautiful anywhere in your home.

5. Illume Copper Leaves Enameled Metal Candle ($40): The same scent as the acorn candle listed above, but in a different jar. Did you ever take a walk in the woods on a weekend, just before sunset, with fallen leaves crunching underfoot? This candle smells like that. (Not to be dramatic, but it really does!)

6. DW Home Pumpkin Rum Candle ($12): I love the smell of this; I bought two of these candles and am regretting not grabbing more! Notes of spiced pumpkin with brown sugar and hints of tart apple and cinnamon sticks steeped in rum–can you imagine anything more autumnal?!

7. DW Home Pumpkin Allspice Candle ($12): I bought three of these candles and have been burning them in my kitchen since September 1. I will continue burning them through November!

8. Makers of Wax Goods White Pumpkin Candle ($16): Faintly sweet (pumpkin, brown sugar, citrus zest), and slightly spicy (nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove), this candle is everything you want in a fall scent.

What are your favorite fall fragrances? I’d love to know what you’re using to scent your home!

Posted in Holidays & Seasons, Home is where the heart is | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Esqido’s New Gel Eyeliners

esqido-gel-eyelinerEsqido sent me a pair of their luxurious false lashes awhile back, and I was so impressed with everything, from the quality of the lashes to the sleek packaging. I was thrilled when they offered to send me their newly-launched Gel Eyeliner Pencil ($16).

esqido-gel-liner-pencilI have a long history with pencil eyeliner. I rarely use it anymore because I can’t find a formula that doesn’t smudge, smear, run, and fade within hours. There is no makeup blunder I hate more than raccoon eyes. Ages ago, I used to use MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil ($18), and although I liked it for quite awhile, it didn’t give me the color payoff or longevity I wanted. So I gave up on pencils and have used only gel and liquid liners for years. There are days when I miss the convenience and quickness of a pencil, so my quest for the perfect pencil liner has been continuing for years.

I think I may have found the holy grail with the new Esquido Gel Eyeliner. Available in black and brown, these liners are super creamy, with the consistency of a gel liner and the convenience of a pencil. The formula is soft and so smooth. I don’t have to press hard on the lid to get full, even coverage, and it’s easily blendable if I want to smoke it out (which I have done, and it looks awesome). Both shades are super pigmented, so I only need a little to create a dramatic effect (which I’m totally into, as I like my liner to be noticeable). I appreciate that it’s equally easy to create thick and thin lines with this pencil.esqido-liner-3I wear eye primer every day, so I test all products with eye primer to see how they hold up. Because the formula is waterproof, it really doesn’t smudge; it takes a minute or two to set, but after that, it stays put. I can get through a full day without raccoon eyes. I also wear contact lenses and sometimes during the day, my other liners transfer to my lenses (through blinking, rubbing my eyes, applying makeup, etc.) in certain spots. This is super irritating and usually forces me to remove my contacts midday to clean them before reinserting. I haven’t yet had this rub off on my contacts. It removes effortlessly with a makeup remover wipe — no tugging necessary. esqido-eyelinerThe packaging is totally on brand with the Esqido aesthetic: clean lines in white with rose gold accents. It is undeniably a beautiful piece of makeup. The pencil is automatic, and there is a sharpener tucked in the base of the pencil body. Although I adore the packaging, dark liner and white don’t make the best combination; this pencil gets very dirty very quickly. Knocking around in your makeup bag, it’s not going to stay pristine for very long.esqido-linerIf you’ve been looking for your perfect eye pencil, I can’t say enough good things about Esqido’s new gel liners. They are definitely worth a try! For a limited time, Esqido is offering introductory pricing on these pencils, and you can grab them for $12 each instead of the usual $16. You would be hard-pressed to find even a good drugstore liner at that price!

The products featured in this post were provided by the brand for consideration. Complimentary products do not in any way guarantee a positive review, or any coverage on this website. If I genuinely like a product, I will write about it; if I don’t, I will not. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Eyes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Foam in Dark

bondi-sands-self-tanning-foamI love self-tanner. Like, over-the-top, wear-it-every-day, can’t-live-without-it love it. It’s for sure in my top 10 product must-haves. I’m very fair, and I love being tan, but don’t want to put my skin at risk of sun damage. So naturally, self-tanner is a big part of my beauty routine year-round (I know I’m in the minority here, as my friends tell me I’m crazy for slathering the stuff on in the dead of winter). My all-time-favorite self-tanner is Loving Tan (the best self-tanner ever). I use it all summer long–I apply it every night without fail–and it gives me the ultimate dark tan that my fair skin couldn’t even get naturally if I tried. It is the perfect self-tanner for summer.

But come fall, I don’t like to be ultra tan. I just need to take the edge off of my paleness, which of course, is amplified during the colder months. I need something a little lighter and less pigmented than Loving Tan for the fall and winter. Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Foam in Dark ($24) is my current favorite for getting slightly (fake) sun-kissed skin. Because it’s a mousse, it’s light and airy, making it easy to apply and blend into skin. It’s tinted, so you’ve got a built-in color guide and can see where you’re applying, which helps avoid streaks and missed spots. Although this particular shade is labeled as Dark, I think it’s more within the typical Medium range. But during the winter months, it’s perfect to give your skin a healthy glow and tint. I think for the price, it’s a really great product. I like it so much that I’ve repurchased a few times. With this, and all self-tanning products, I always use a mitt applicator to reduce the potential of streaking or missing a spot, and to prevent staining my hands.

What’s your favorite self-tanner? Do you use it year-round?

Posted in Skincare, Summer Beauty | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revisited: Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette

too-faced-sweet-peachI have been on the hunt for a new eyeshadow palette for fall. I’m pretty particular about what I’m looking for: something with a mix of matte and shimmery shadows, with lots of fall colors (think rich greens, deep purples, dark and midtown browns, and taupes) that can double as neutrals. I was having the hardest time finding something that fit the bill. Then I looked in my vanity drawer and rediscovered an old palette I had tossed aside that was nearly perfect: Too Faced’s Sweet Peach Palette ($49).

TFsweetpeach3I can’t believe I purchased this and used it only a handful of times before deciding I didn’t like it. Now, it has almost everything I’ve been looking for in terms of shades, finishes, and variety; a mix of matte and shimmery shadows make it the ideal palette to toss in my purse and go. There are more warm shadows than cool, but they work well even on my cool skin  (and they complement the other cool shades in the palette). As with all Too Faced eyeshadows, the texture makes these shadows high-quality. They’re easy to blend, evenly (highly) pigmented, and comfortable on the skin.TFsweetpeach2

The one thing I still don’t like about this palette is that the shadows are faintly peach-scented. But the colors are so good, I can overlook that (the scent isn’t noticeable at all when wearing the shadows).sweet-peach-eyeshadow

This has been the palette I’ve exclusively reached for over the past few weeks. I’m so glad I unearthed it in my drawer of old beauty products! Have you ever rediscovered a product that weren’t crazy about initially, but then fell in love with?

Posted in Eyes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NARS Climax Mascara: Worth the Hype?

nars-climax-mascaraNARS is on a major PR blitz for their latest release, Climax mascara ($24). The brand says their newest offering delivers voluminous, plumped-up, inky-black lashes. Before I even get into it, I have to say I’m over the sexual innuendos that NARS loves to use in their product names. This mascara is no exception; I think the name is ridiculous, but I’m such a sucker for a new mascara, I had to buy a tube to see if it made good on its promises.

nars-climax-tubePart of the reason I purchased this mascara was the wand: it’s thick, fluffy, and tapered at the tip–pretty much everything I ever want in a mascara wand. In finding a great mascara, the wand is half the battle, and this definitely scored major points with me because I knew it would grip my lashes and really coat them with mascara. If fat brushes don’t work for you, you won’t be into this!

The formula is great: thick, with a whipped-like texture that’s lightweight and not too wet. It’s my ideal mascara formula because this consistency works well for my lashes.


My lashes with two coats of Climax

Between the brush and the product, this mascara really does live up to its claims. The first coat is instantly noticeable, and quietly dramatic. The second coat makes my lashes look long, thick, and fanned out. I opt for a third coat when I want to really make my lashes pop. There was zero clumping, flaking, smudging, or running during the day (I always use the sweaty-workout-on-a-humid-day test, and this passed with flying colors!). It held a curl beautifully, and my lashes were lifted and dark until I took my makeup off at night. It’s very to remove with cleanser, micellar water, or a makeup remover wipe.

IMG_0441My sole complaint about this is a packaging design flaw: when you pull the wand out of the tube, there’s a lot of excess product on the tip. A few swipes on the neck will take care of it, but it’s a little annoying that SO much product comes out every time I use this.

nars3The packaging is my least favorite thing about this mascara. I really don’t like it. The red is super bold (but if you’re into red, you’ll dig it!), and the ridged plastic feels light. I really wish this was housed in a different tube, but it works so well, I care less about what the package looks like.

I also think the price point is really good. Some mascaras are creeping up past the $25 mark, and honestly, it feels excessive. When compared to other this mascaras at the same price (Urban Decay Perversion, Too Faced Better Than Sex, Benefit Roller Lash & They’re Real), this feels more luxurious and performs better (in my opinion).

It’s available for purchase now on the NARS US & UK websites, Ulta, Sephora Canada, Selfridges, and Mecca Cosmetica.

Have you tried this mascara? What do you think?

Posted in Mascara | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


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.


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.

Posted in Bath & Body, Home is where the heart is | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment