Kari Gran Essential Balm – Perfect for Winter!

kari-gran-essential-balmWe are in a snow-covered deep freeze here in the Northeast, and it’s taking its toll on my skin. Every time winter weather rolls around, I find myself wishing for a product that can multitask when it comes to dry skin. Like a lip balm, but multipurpose — for my entire body. I know that products like this existed before, but something about them always felt off; either I didn’t like the way they felt on my skin, or they just didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I’ve finally found the holy grail of balms! Kari Gran Essential Balm ($98) is perfect for literally your whole body. This balm is my new go-to for winter!

Patches of dry skin that are caused by cold weather? A tiny bit of this balm will soften them. Irritated skin under your nose from an illness? This will moisturize it so it’s gone in a few days. Dryness under your eyes? A few gentle dabs of this will help hydrate. Hangnails? Put this on them! You can literally use this anywhere (yep, it works as a lip balm, too). A little goes SUCH a long way; a dab half the size of a pea is enough to use on several areas of your body. It glides on smoothly and thins as it warms from your touch, making application gently and quick.

kari-gran-essential-balmIt’s made with natural, organic, non-GMO ingredients (and cruelty-free), so I don’t have to worry about toxins being absorbed into my skin. In short, this will be with me until spring (and probably after that, too).

The product in this post was provided by the brand for consideration. All opinions are my own.

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Last-Minute Gift Idea: Trade Joe’s Lip Treatment Duo

trader-joes-lip-treatment-duoNeed an inexpensive last-minute gift for someone? Trader Joe’s has you covered with their Lip Treatment Duo ($3.99).

I picked this up for myself (and a few others) a couple weeks ago, and am so glad I did. The balm is hydrating without being gooey or tacky, and the sugar scrub really works to slough off dead skin so you don’t look like you have chapped lips. They are both made with jojoba oil, shea butter, and macadamia oil, and are lightly citrus-scented. The tiny tubes are perfect for throwing in your purse. I’ve been using mine endlessly since I bought it!

trader-joes-lip-treatment-duo[Image via Trader Joe’s]

It’s even packaged nicely, so it looks pricier than it is. I think this is the best gift you’ll find under $5!

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best times of year for scoring major deals–especially when it comes to makeup, which rarely goes on sale! Here is the annual roundup of deals. Some are active now, but most start on Nov. 25 (Black Friday). Since this is primarily a beauty site, I stuck mostly with makeup/skincare companies, but also threw in a few clothing/jewelry/home deals I found while researching. Happy shopping!beauty

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Beautycounter’s Flawless in Five Clean Makeup Collection

beautycounter-flawless-in-fiveIn an effort to purge my stash of products that are not clean, I ordered Beautycounter’s “Flawless in Five” collection ($148). This is a bundle of six of their essential products (foundation, concealer, mascara, lip gloss, blush, and brow pencil) offered at a slightly discounted rate (compared to purchasing them all individually). I did a good amount of research on clean makeup before making this purchase–and found this list of products really helpful. I decided that Beautycounter’s products got the best reviews, and I was happy with their safer ingredients. The Flawless in Five collection includes the following products, with their individual prices listed behind them, in case you want to purchase any separately:

  • Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation ($41)
  • Touchup Skin Concealer Pen ($32)
  • Volumizing Mascara or Lengthening Mascara ($29)
  • Color Define Brow Pencil ($23)
  • Powder Blush Duo ($40)
  • Lip Gloss ($29)

You can choose your preferred shades for any of the products when you order this bundle.

beautycounter-tintskinbeautycounter-tintskin-2Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation: I really wanted to like this foundation, and for the most part, I do. It’s the closest thing to a tinted moisturizer that I’ve found that will replace my beloved Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Illuminating. But to me, it can look a little cakey. I don’t like the finish or feel of traditional foundations, and I feel like maybe because the finish on this is matte, it throws me off. I thin it out with my moisturizer for dewier, sheerer coverage, and I like the way that looks. Since I like some shimmer in my foundation, I add in a few drops of a clean luminizer to give this a little glow and fake the effect of the Laura Mercier product. The shade itself is an exact match to Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer Illuminating in Natural Radiance.beautycounter-foundation

beautycounter-gloss-bare-shimmer2Lip Gloss in Bare Shimmer: I was totally surprised by how much I love this gloss. It’s comfortable to wear, and on me, the shade is a my-lips-but-better hue. It’s so pretty, surprisingly long-wearing, and I feel good that since you end up eating most of your gloss, this is free from chemicals and toxic fillers.

beautycounter-mascaraVolumizing Mascara: This is a solid mascara. I like it a lot; it gives excellent definition and fullness, a nice inky-black tint, and it does not smudge, flake, or run. My only complaint is that it takes several coats to notice that you’re wearing this. For example, I usually only apply one coat of mascara to my bottom lashes. With this, I have to apply at least two for it to show up. I’m not sure how many coats I layer on my top lashes, but it’s more than a few, and this stuff still doesn’t budge. I’m a fan.

beautycounter-concealerTouchup Concealer Pen: I ordered this in the shade Light, which is not light enough, and it’s too much of a yellow tint for my skin tone. On my skin, because it’s the wrong shade, it’s not noticeable enough to brighten any areas where I typically apply concealer (under the eyes, on blemishes). I’m frustrated because this wasn’t cheap, and Beautycounter doesn’t do exchanges. You can return individual products, but not one item from a set, and since I want to keep the other products I ordered, I’m stuck with this product that I can’t really use. See it swatched on my skin below.beautycounter-concealer-penbeautycounter-blush-duoPowder Blush Duo in Bloom/Tulip: This is a silky powder formula that glides on skin. I swirl my brush through both shades and swipe onto my cheeks for a natural flush. I tend to need a few swipes of the brush to make the apples of my cheeks pop. This is a nice blush, and I do like it, but the price point would probably steer me away from repurchasing. But this product is generously sized at 0.35 oz., so it should last awhile!

beautycounter-brow-pencilColor Define Brow Pencil in Light: It’s ok; it does the job. I wouldn’t necessarily pick this out as the best brow pencil ever, because it does take a fair amount of pressure to deposit color onto skin. I prefer mechanical pencils, but I do like the spoolie at the opposite end for blending. The color is nice for blondes and those with lighter hair.

All in all, these products are mostly quite good, and they perform very well. They really help squash the notion that clean products don’t perform as well as their chemical-laden counterparts. While I would pass on repurchasing a few of these products, there are some I will buy again without question. There is also the disadvantage in purchasing things like foundation online, where it can be difficult to match you skin tone sight unseen. My hesitation is mostly with the price points, which are high on some items. But you’re paying for peace of mind and the knowledge that what you’re putting on your face probably won’t contribute to health issues down the line. beautycounter-blushHave you tried any Beautycounter products? What did you think?

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Esqido False Lashes

esqido-false-lashesI’d heard about Esqido false lashes years ago, but never had the opportunity to try them until recently. The gorgeous mink lashes are a glamorous addition to any makeup kit, and they complete a spectrum of makeup looks, from daytime to special occasion.

9E46BBAB-BFB9-4000-9A24-D93B468A6B40The high-quality lashes are handcrafted with genuine mink hair, which creates a long-lasting, luxurious false lash. Because the lashes are designed to be reworn several times when properly cared for, you need to take a bit of extra care when removing and storing these lashes. More on that later in this post.

Esqido sent me the Lashlorette style ($29), a full, wispy, dramatic set, which is great for me because when it comes to false lashes, I don’t do natural. They’re thick, inky black, and comfortable on the eye. They’re handmade with mink hair and are held together with a cotton band.esqido-false-lashes2Although I LOVE fake lashes, my biggest complaint with them is that sometimes they feel “scratchy” on my eyes. After a few hours of wear, I’m dying to take them off because my eyes and lids inevitably get so irritated. These lashes felt different; they were more comfortable than traditional synthetic falsies, and they didn’t feel heavy on my lids.  I actually forgot I was wearing them.

Although these lashes are pretty dramatic, Esqido offers a range of styles from natural and understated to full-on glam. You have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to finding the right style for your personal taste. They have lashes at three price points: the Classic Collection, which has a single layer of lash hairs on a band and retails for $29, the Noire Collection, which features stacked, layered lashes, priced at $32, and lower lashes, which go for $24.

esqido-lash-glueEsqido also sent me their Companion eyelash glue ($10), which I love partly because of the thin brush tip applicator. It’s skinny and perfect for  applying glue directly to the lashband without making a mess. I usually apply a dollop of glue to the back of my hand, and then, holding the lashes with tweezers, drag the lashband through the glue. It’s so much easier and less messy to apply the glue directly to the band. Although the formula is white in the tube, it dries clear, so no worries about making a mess on your lids. The glue is a nice consistency, and won’t run when you’re waiting for it to set. I had no issues with hold (my lashes held on tight till I removed them). It’s latex-free and didn’t irritate my eyelids. Continue reading

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Back in Line with LoveBug Probiotics

lovebug-probioticsProbiotics are “good” bacteria that naturally occur in your stomach and do a host of beneficial functions for your body, including immune system support, mental development, digestion support, and more. But because of our modern lifestyles and traditional Western medicine, many of us have an overpopulation of bad bacteria in our stomachs. One way to get your stomach balanced is through probiotic supplements, which replenish the supply of good bacteria.

LoveBug Probiotics offered to send me a trial package of some of their products. I received a one-month supply (30 tablets) each of Here’s the Skinny, Yeast is a Beast, and Colds Suck formulas. (They also offer Labor of Love with folic acid for expecting moms, Little Ones for kids, and Tiny Tummies for babies.) All formulas range from about $27-$35.

lovebug-probiotics-2LoveBug probiotics have a patented “BIO-tract” technology that delivers 15 time more live cultures to your stomach than standard probiotic capsules, which mean they’re more effective. The tablets are non-GMO, don’t contain artificial colors or flavors, and are free of gluten, yeast, lactose, sugar, and preservatives.

After the jump, see what I thought after trying these!

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Watch out boy, she’ll chew you up

tarte-maneaterEvery time I pull Tarte’s Maneater mascara ($23) out of my makeup bag, the Hall & Oates song rolls through my mind. And then it gets stuck there for days. So take that as a warning that this may happen to you if you buy this mascara!

tarte-maneater-2I typically hate mascaras that have plastic bristle wands. The only exception is Benefit’s Roller Lash, which is amazing because it holds a curl for so long. When I saw a bunch of YouTube videos about Maneater, I immediately noticed the plastic bristles, and was skeptical–but of course, I had to try it.

More details after the jump.

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Favorite Summer Nailpolishes

fave-summer-nailpolishesNails are my least favorite beauty ritual. I hate polishing them myself, and I hate getting manicures even more. I can’t sit still, and they always smudge the second I leave the nail salon! Still, I feel naked without polish. Here are some of my favorite shades for hot summer weather.

OPI in Shorts Story ($8): My all-time favorite pink.

OPI Infinite Shine in Taupe-less Beach ($12): Love this cool grey with lavender undertones for a contrast to bright, neon nails.

Habit in Swimming Pool ($18): The name says it all.

Floss Gloss in Night Palm ($8): Inspired by palm trees against a night sky, this lush green proves that summer nails don’t have to be bright.

essie in Peach Daiquiri ($9): A vibrant coral shade that looks fabulous against all shades of sun-kissed skin.

Deborah Lippmann in Mermaid’s Dream ($20): A pretty, shimmery, glitter-flecked seafoam reminiscent of the ocean.

Orly in Oh Cabana Boy ($8): Hot pink that’s perfect for hot weather.

Nails Inc. Nailkale Polish in Marylebone High Street ($15): A punchy watermelon peach shade reminiscent of juicy summer fruits.

What are your favorite summer nail shades?




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Perfect Natural Moisturizer: Kari Gran Three Sixty Five SPF 28

kari-gran-three-sixty-five-moisturizerFor the past few years, I’ve actively sought out natural products free of toxins, especially when it comes to skincare. I hate the thought of putting something on my face that could potentially harm my health in the future. Kari Gran Three Sixty Five SPF 28 ($48-$75) is a lightweight, everyday moisturizer that provides broad-spectrum sun protection and a healthy dose of hydration. It’s designed to be worn every day (hence the name), as sunscreen should be.

I use this daily as the base of my makeup routine. I pat it all over my face, neck, and ears before applying any other product. Knowing my skin is protected from UV rays is super important to me (I’d like to prevent both fine lines and health issues). Doing that with a safe product gives me peace of mind.

All of Kari Gran’s skincare products, including this sunscreen, are made with natural, organic, wild-harvested and non-GMO ingredients. They’re free of parabens, toxins, preservatives, phthalates, petrochemicals, mineral oil, chemical additives, and synthetic fragrances. And they don’t test on or animals, or include animal-tested ingredients in their products. On every level, it’s a product I feel good about using.

Have you ever tried this, or any of Kari Gran’s products? Her Lip Whips are now available at Sephora!

More of my posts on Kari Gran:





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Effortless Wedding Planning with Basic Invite

basic-invite-wedding1It’s wedding season! Brides-to-be, there is a new stationery game in town, and you’re going to want to get in on it.

Your earliest chance to set the tone of your wedding is in the stationery you send. The save-the-dates and invitations are usually the initial glimpse of your wedding style that your guests see, so you want to make a powerful first impression. If you’re looking for chic, cool wedding invitations or customized bridal shower invitations to fit your unique personality, Basic Invite has you covered. (Don’t let the name fool you; they’re anything but basic.)

basic-invite-wedding2Basic Invite offers a bunch of unique features that you won’t find with other online wedding stationers, including “almost unlimited colors” and custom samples. They are one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options for each invitation and instant previews online. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card so you can get your piece exactly how you want it, down to the littlest detail. You can also order printed samples of your actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print (no guessing on color) and feel the paper quality before you place your order.

All of their invitations are part of a set, so you can have your whole stationery suite in a coordinating design if you choose. They offer more than 200 sets from which to choose. The option to have your invitations, programs, menus, and thank you cards all bear a similar look can save you a headache down the line; it eliminates the need to make more choices when you’re already up to your ears in planning decisions!

basic_invite_table_cardsThey also have everything you need for your wedding day, including personalized guest books and table placecards. If I could go back a few years and do my wedding all over again, I would definitely get a guestbook. I chose to forgo one in favor of custom blank cards on which guests were asked to write messages to us. A whopping total of 2 guests wrote us messages! I can’t help but wish we had more messages from guests on that day. I would have loved to have a personalized guestbook there. Don’t even get me started on my placecards. I slaved over them, writing the names in calligraphy in the days leading up to my wedding…like I had nothing else to do! In hindsight, ordering escort cards would have been so much easier (and time-saving).

basic_invite_guest_book1You can also take advantage of their free address collection service to request your guests’ addresses. Share a link, let guests submit their address, and get free envelope printing, courtesy of Basic Invite. It’s included in the invitation suites.basic-invite-wedding3

For more wedding inspiration and photos of their products, check out Basic Invite’s PinterestInstagram, and Facebook.

This post was brought to you by Basic Invite.

Images courtesy of Basic Invite



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