Thursday, October 29, 2015

splurge! October

My "splurge" posts are always so popular I have decided to do it once a month.  Just for fun.  Certainly there is plenty of extravagant stuff out there to splurge on.  Are these "must haves"?  Well no, but that is not the point is it?

Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask is, has, and always will be my favorite mask.  I call it the "date night mask" because it gives your face an instant lift and glow.  It looks like you've been exfoliated but because you actually haven't been, there is no redness whatsoever.  No idea how they do it.  Maybe because it is super smoothing and hydrating?  It's made with the very anti-aging anti-oxidant black tea and other natural ingredients.

$92 for 3.3 oz

Go get a facial!  And be sure to add on the extra serums, or upgraded mask, or microdermabrasion.  Or all!  I often find that facials are more relaxing than a regular massage.  When I was an esthetician it wasn't unusual for people to fall asleep when I was giving them a facial.  Of course you are also doing something terrific for your skin, and it is most beneficial to go once a month if you can afford it.  Also go to a spa that uses top quality products.  Some good ones to look out for are Eminence (organic), Phytomer (marine based), SkinCeuticals (clinical).

The average cost of a facial with add-ons can be about $165-$185

By Terry Baume De Rose Salve is far and away the most hydrating lip balm I have ever used.  Nothing can compare, as evidenced by its huge cult following.  It's a perpetual best seller of the brand.  Fortified with rose flower essential wax and pastel oil, and everything nourishing you can imagine, it heals and protects the delicate skin of your lips, all with the faint whiff of rose.

$60 for .35 oz

Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses Eau De Parfum.  All the Kilian perfumes are super pricey but are as unique as they come, making them particularly coveted.  The ouds are especially popular but I am posting this one because it was the first that I fell in love with.  Liaisons Dangereuses is kind of an odd mix of notes that somehow work. It is a sexy fruity musk. Some of the top notes includes peach and black current (this one strongly evident).  Some middle notes are cinnamon, geranium, and rose.  And the extensive list of base notes includes vetiver, musk, and oak moss.  Go to Saks to get a spray, or if you are lucky a free sample!

$260 for 1.7 oz

Fornasetti Flora Lidded Candle  What you are paying for here is the beauty and the name. Fornasetti candles are works of art created by Italian painter, sculptor, and engraver Piero Fornasetti.  The designs on the ceramic containers are often quite surreal.  Of course the candles themselves are top quality using vegetable wax.  They come in a variety of "pictures" and fragrances but this luscious floral one is my favorite because of its undertones of sandalwood and musk.


I WANT TO TRY:  Dyptique Precious Oils Body and Bath.  Diptyque is mostly known for their candles and even for their perfumes but this oil is, I think, pretty new to the line.  It is supposed to be super luxurious and smell divine.  I prefer to use bath oils (as opposed to salts etc.) because they feel silkier on my skin, so this would fit the bill.

$78 for 4.25 oz

For more splurge! posts check out:

pics stolen from Fragrantica, Barneys, SpaceNK, Sephora, and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Sunday, October 25, 2015

badass body lotions

You can't go without body moisturizers.  Really.  Would you go without hydrating your face?  I thought not.  Well, your body needs hydration just as much to prevent wrinkling, sagging, or flaking.  So while any body lotion might do, there are some that go above and beyond the call of duty.  I have a few favorites I keep in rotation year after year that I want to tell you about.

Fresh Sugar Acai Age-Delay Body Cream is my absolute favorite.  It figures that it is also the most expensive.  It is an indulgent cream of medium thickness that delivers a multitude of benefits.  It has sugar and fruit acids for natural exfoliation to keep your skin smooth, and almond protein to lift and firm (you need to use it twice a day, everyday for any real firming to occur).  Of course there is the star ingredient Acai which is a super anti-oxidant to protect the skin and help slow down the aging process.  Most of all I love how it feels - utterly sumptuous.

On the other hand, the Sephora Collection Super Supreme Body Butter is in a huge tub so you really get a good value.  It is the most hydrating body butter I know that absorbs easily and doesn't feel sticky or greasy.  I enjoy the floral scent but it also has some heavy-hitting hydrators in it like shea butter, HydroSenn+ and hyaluronic acid.  If you have moderately to extremely dry skin this is the product for you, and I find it especially soothing to apply on freshly shaved legs.   It is also nice that it is paraben, sulfate, phthalate, GMO, and Triclosan free.

Philosophy Amazing Grace perfumed firming body emulsion is just lovely.  It is wonderfully hydrating with a light-weight consistency.  I don't notice that it firms too much but I am crazy about how it feels and smells (light, fresh, and feminine with a hint of bergamot and flowers).  I frequently give this as a gift and my friends always ending up buying more for themselves once my gift has run out.  Also fun: it has an inspirational, philosophical quote on the front of the bottle about aging gracefully.

L'Occitane Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Milk Concentrate makes your skin as silky as can be.  Not only do the almond oils smell divine, hydrate exceedingly well, but they are also tightening.  Way to go!  It absorbs immediately and I use it all over my body, even in places that don't need tightening just because I love how it feels. L'Occitane is a natural brand of skincare from the Provence region of France that gets nothing but rave reviews.  Also paraben free!

I WANT TO TRY:  Whipped Goods plant-based and hand crafted body butters.  Butter is the key word here.  Apparently they are fluffy and rich as mousse desert.  I can't decided which to order, the Egyptian Musk or Sandalwood Bourbon - I better do both!

pics stolen from links and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

empties October 2015

All the beauty gals on youtube like to do empties videos.  These are basically succinct reviews on the beauty products they have tried and finished up (obviously).  I think it'd be fun so I I'm going to give it a try -  I am such a copycat!  I hope it catches your interest.
And this month it seems like I ran out of everything at once which is unfortunate because it is always so expensive to have to go repurchase that way.  Here are the highlights of my empties haul.

Perricone MD Firming Neck Therapy.
repurchase?  No.  There was a real noticeable difference but now that I no longer get my discount I can't afford it.  I loved this stuff but I'll be switching back to Bliss Thinny Chin Chin which is not as good but still works and is half the price.

Macadamia Professional Ultra Rich Shampoo and Conditioner.
repurchase?  Not for now.  It was perfectly smoothing for my long damaged hair but with my new healthy bob it is too much.  Great stuff though!.

INeKE Perfumer San Francisco Angel Trumpet Perfume.

repurchase?  Definitely!  An artisanal  light cheery floral, I was sad when my sample ran out.  I will rush out to buy a full bottle.

Garnier Clean + Nourishing Cleansing Oil For Dry Skin.

repurchase?  No.  It took me a while to figure out that, despite my very dry skin, it was breaking me out. I tried repurposing it as an eye makeup remover but that didn't turn out so great.

Scunci No Damage Hair Elastics Black.
Repurchase?  Yup!  I go through these like water, they are always disappearing into the land of the lost but I can't live without them.

Satin Developlus Hair Dye:
repurchase?  Yes although next time I think I will go for a deeper red. This professional brand (found at beauty supply stores) is a fun and inexpensive (but permanent) way to experiment with color!

Formula X SHINE Top Coat.

repurchase?  Maybe later.  I liked this a whole lot - it gave terrific shine - but I hear the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat is great and a lot cheaper.

Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Restoring Cream.
repurchase?  Absolutely!  I've used and loved this for years.  And with my Sephora friends and family discount I just bought the expensive large jar.  I featured this in my September favorites post.

pics stolen from walgreens, sephora, perricone MD, macadamia and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Friday, October 16, 2015

exciting 2015 holiday sets you need to buy for yourself

Let's get real.  Most of the time when you buy a present for someone it is something you would like for yourself.  So why pretend?  Here are some awesome sets for YOU to enjoy.  Holidays sets are unique, limited edition for the season, and are a great value (saving $$ = the best reason to buy them).  But watch out they sell out fast - the popular ones waaaaay before Christmas!

NARS Steven Klein FANTASCENE Despair Cheek Palette with the famous (mini) kabuki ita contouring brush.  Steven Klein  is a fascinating photographer and his influence is felt here in the cool packaging. The 4 stunning holiday blush shades include a natural glow, a gilded apricot, a rouge coral, and a flushed primrose: three are exclusive to this palette.  NARS is known for their blushes and these colors look much better in person.

Philosophy Christmas Cook Book Collection is full of fun and yummy holiday scented shampoo/shower gels/bubble baths.  Maybe I'm too old to like sweet things but hey, I do.  So these 4 oz vanilla bean nutmeg, pumpkin icing, cinnamon stick, fresh cream scents are a treat for me. Of course any of the Philosophy gift sets (they have skincare) are a good idea. Sephora sells them too but if you buy them from Nordstrom's right now it is 10% off and free shipping.

Too Faced Melted Kisses & Sweet Cheeks is the most adorable of all these sets.  In the princess packaging are three of their best-selling Melted Lipsticks and three of their long-wearing Love Flush Blushes.  The color selection is to die for - a little bit of flattering something for everyone.  I can't say enough good things about this one.

Laura Mercier Stroke Of Genius Luxe Brush Collection is six brushes of superb quality.   Includes  flat eyeliner, eyeshadow crease, all over eye color, cheek color brush, pony tail brush, secret camouflage brush.  I like the easy to use short handles combined with the full size brush heads.  The hard, sleek case is beautifully nubby and perfect for travel or to keep handy on your vanity top.

And I love two irresistible exclusive-to-Sephora lip collections.  If you don't like a color or two give them away to friends and family, you'll make their day.  But don't forget a girl can never have too many lip glosses!

(1) Sephora Collection Gift-A-Gloss Lip Gloss Sampler  8 oh-so-pretty glosses in Crystal, Frosted Pink, Juicy Pink, Festive pink, Sheer Lilac, Soft red, Shimmering Coral, and Holiday Berry.  With all the super pigmented liquid lipsticks taking over the market these days I find it refreshing to still use traditional glossy gloss. They are marketed to give as gifts but I need them all! And totes adorable packaging!

(2) Buxom Leave Your Mark Full-on Lip Polish & Lip Cream Set is 15 minis:  8 Full-on Lip Polishes (sheer shimmering plumping) and 7 Lip Creams (more opaque but still plumping) all with their usual coquettish names.  Includes crimsons, nudes, even a few purplish, and of course many different pinks.  Buxom is a favorite of everyone.

Now "what about eyeshadows?" you ask.  Well, not to sounds too jaded - they are all fine - but I'm not in love with any of them as I am in love with the products listed above. I admit the Urban Decay Vice4 Palette has the most spectacular packaging but when swatched, the insides were not my favorite of the Vice Palettes.   And Too Faced has exquisite packaging however the quality of some of the shadows themselves are weak.  I would say if you want something along those lines color-wise and with quality, go for Jem And The Holograms:  Truly Outrageous Eyeshadow Palette.  Exclusive to Sephora, it is getting rave reviews.

Pics stolen from, macy's, com, and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

hydrating: some alternatives to face oils

I realized the other day that when I make winter skincare recommendations I always mention face oils which are by no means the only way to add extra hydration to the skin.  I fully recognize that not everyone likes face oil and so I felt like I was doing people a disservice.  But I am here to make amends and offer up some alternatives.  Most of these products will include the ingredients Sodium Hyaluronate or Hyaluronic Acid - other very popular ways to hydrate the skin without adding heavinesss.  These are not stinging or harsh as they sound.  They won't feel acidy at all, but instead draw in and hold moisture up to 1000 times their own weight.  You can see why this is beneficial.  So here are a few options.

Tata Harper has created a superb all natural skin care line that was formerly available only to the elite.  Now she is at Nordstrom and Sephora. Yay. She exclusively uses the most refined and exquisite natural botanical ingredients that heal the skin.  Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence  is a terrific way to create a hydrating balance for your face.  Just use it as you would a usual toner:  after cleansing and throughout the day to refresh.

Kate Somerville is a famous esthetician who rose from the ranks.  I trust her to truly know skin because she has worked in the trenches.  She created two versions of sodium hyaluronate serums (1) Kate Somerville Quench Oil Free Hydrating Face Serum which goes on as a gel so you don't feel it sitting on your skin at all.  Wear it as a serum underneath your moisturizer, or for oily and acneic types wear it alone - it'll be perfect for you that way.
And also (2) Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum which does have a little bit of oil (lipids) but not like a straight up face oil.  Unlike the oil-free version it has a tad bit of retinol in it.  Initially it feels quite slippery, partially do to its delivery system of dimethicone, and does take a while to absorb, but the uber dry skin types would love it.  For them it is mostly worn as a serum.
Both are pricey but a very little bit goes a long way.

Peter Thomas Roth Viz-1000 75 Percent Hyaluronic Acid Complex comes from a clinical skincare line that delivers just as it claims.  This high concentration of hyaluronic acid creates a smooth, plump, and more youthful appearance just from hydration alone.  It is a light weight gel that absorbs into the skin immediately, and has been a best seller for years.  Use it alone if you want things super light (like for men), or else under moisturizer, but either way watch out because it often sells out!

pics stolen from Sephora, katesomerville and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Saturday, October 10, 2015

gearing up for winter skin

Fires in the fireplace, boots, wool, and dry, moisture-sucking air.  These are a few things I think of when I think of the cooler months.  Just as you change up your clothes for the season, it is critical to change up your skincare as well.  Stuff that is creamier, more nourishing and hydrating is the order of the day.  For a post explaining everything be sure to read my hydrating for the winter.  Here though I'll just be recommending some superb products with quick and simple steps to care for cold weather skin.  Take note.....

First off, change to a creamy cleanser.  You may not believe it, but this is essential.  Soothing your skin from the very first step is a game-changer.  Algenist Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser is velvety and luxurious at the same time a bit anti-aging with sea algae.  It is super hydrating but gives a thorough clean, and rinses off easily leaving no residue.  And no parabens or sulfates!

Dry skin needs exfoliation just as much as oily skin, so I would alternate your Algenist cleanser with Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser, but no more than twice a week - you don't want to overdo things and make it worse.  A lovely consistency, this gently exfoliates with fruit enzymes and jojoba beads that dissolve instead of harming the environment.  Oh yeah, and it's 100% natural and can be found at Whole Foods.

Step 2: oils oils oils.  Everyone manufactures face oils now but one of the first ones, NUDE Skincare ProGenious Oil, remains my favorite.  This is all natural, full of omegas, and gives the smoothest, best glow.  It is not at all greasy and absorbs pretty much right away.**   With the market being flooded these days it kind of flies under the radar but honestly I don't think you could do better (well ok Sunday Riley might be a tad bit better but is definitely pricier).  No mineral oil!

Of course you need to think about switching to a more hydrating moisturizer and I've got an inexpensive one that fits the bill perfectly.  CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is at the drugstore and comes in a big tub.  Some people just use it as a spot treatment for particularly patchy areas but during the dry winter weather I need to use this all over my face.  It is not greasy but truly soothing and satisfying.

And as an accessory it is nice to keep a bottle of hydrating spray at hand.  A few spritzes throughout the day replenish and restore.  Especially because that indoor heating really does a number on your skin.  There are many brands.  Most popular is the Evian but the problem with that is it is just straight water with no ingredients that actually attract and penetrate hydration to your skin.  I think the the superior products are the two Caudalie ones.

Like the Evian,  Caudalie Organic Grape Water comes in an aerosol can but the difference is that the grape water calms sensitive skin (overly dry skin can become very sensitive) and jacks up the the moisture levels in your skin by 127%.  No parabens, you know the drill.

Or if you want to go whole hog you should buy their cult favorite Caudalie Beauty Elixir.  This pump spray is chock full of essential oils that are truly healing. It combats the dullness of dry skin and refreshes your makeup.  It smells totally spa-like (it's a scent you will never forget) and even comes in a purse size so you can easily keep it on hand.  No parabens etc. etc
I WANT TO TRY:  Straight up coconut oil.  I can see using it on your hair but the face I am a little nervous about.  However people do do it.  As a natural oil you can't beat it, and my skin is super duper dry.  Plus it's inexpensive.

Have you ever used coconut oil on your face?

** Another hydrating hint:  mix a drop in with your foundation!

Pics stolen from,, and the product's websites.

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

lovely drug store lip balms

Lip balm.  I have it in my car, my purse, the table next to the couch in the tv room, my bathroom, and my bedside table.  Yes, I am a lip balm fiend.  And I hear it is a trend nowadays to collect massive amounts of lip balm.  I have my favorites; some fancy schmancy and some drugstore, but today I am going to just talk about the drugstore ones.

Hands down Aquaphor works the absolute best for super chapped, flaky, sore, cracked, lips.  It is healing and protecting, if a bit thick in consistency.
(And FYI hands down, in my opinion, eos despite the cute packaging works the worst.  In fact I think it makes my lips more dry.  Don't you fall for it.)

Blistex Soft & Lush SPF 15.  Is super silky (from delivery system dimethicone, think what you will) with a delicious maple smell that I can't resist, and it stayed put through eating my salad.  It is definitely on the light side so is perfect for under lipstick.  The spf is crucial because most people don't realize how easy it is to get sun damage on the tender skin of your lips.  Blistex is a leader in lip care so you really can't go wrong with it.   This is my favorite of all. 

Burt's Bees Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter  Kokum butter is ripe with fatty acids and anti-oxidants and is often compared with shea butter.  So this lip balm is natural and hypoallergenic.  It can get mixed reviews but I don't know why, with two generous layers I like it quite a lot.  It's very creamy!  Also be on the look out for their seasonal pumpkin spice "flavor".  It is not as healing but hey, who can resist pumpkin spice?

Most people love Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm SPF 20. They come in a wide variety of sheer colors and fun flavors; in fact that is the reason people buy them.  It's a just-swipe-it-and-go situation. Beauty mavens collect them like crazy.  Personally, I don't like the messiness of colored lip balms (I am weird that way) so my favorite is just the clear plain one.  It has such a velvety consistency, but with a faint whiff of sunscreen which I kinda like because it reminds me of a day at the beach.  Wears well!

WANT TO TRY:  I haven't used Bonne Bell Lipsmacker in Dr. Pepper since 1979 and I really want to get some for nostalgia reasons.  Unfortunately the Walgreens and CVS near me are total crap and don't carry Bonne Bell.  I must travel to get it.

pics stollen from,, and

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews

Friday, October 2, 2015

september favorites 2015

It's that time of year and Aaack! it's getting dark so early.  How depressing.  But here is some September stuff that cheered me up....

NAILS: Sally's Box, Friendly Milk Nail Mask are like little wet socks for each finger - totes adorable!  But better than that they make your nails super hydrated, silky, and strong.  I feel like the effects lasted for weeks.

LIPS: Dr. Harris & Co. Ltd. Lip Balm brings up fond memories for me every time I use it because I bought it at MiN on a trip to NYC.  And it actually works fantastically.  It is very "balmy".

EATING/DRINKING: Homemade ice cream! It's really quite simple if you have an ice cream making machine.  Coffee flavor is the best of course.

WATCHING: The Great British Baking Show on PBS.  It's a competition show but a posh version of something you'd watch on the food network.  Everyone is charming and the scenery is to die for.

FACE: Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream never fails to make my skin glow.  Not only that but it's been a fave of mine for years and years, so it is not necessarily true that your skin gets used to a product and stops working.

READING:  The Rise And Fall Of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson.  I picked this up because I am convinced I had a past life in ancient Egypt and I wanted to see if it hit any chords. (not so far)

PERFUME: Our September has been gruelingly hot so I went for the light side of things - celebrity scents!  A combo of Jlo, Glow on one wrist and Eau de Gaga by Lady Gaga
on the other wrist - the synergy was amazing!

MAKEUP a 3way tie:
(1) I'm way late getting on the bandwagon for Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder but WOW do I love it!  Apply it lightly with a huge fluffy brush all over your face and you will look lit from within.  Or use it in varying layers on your cheekbones for a velvety highlight.
(2) Maybelline Fit Me! Foundation SPF 18 is my new crush.  It has even superseded Maybelline TrueMatch in my book.  I prefer the matte formula and use a hydrating, illuminating primer underneath for the ideal look.
(3) Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara, Very Black.  Last month's favorite mascara was Urban Decay Perversion but this is at least as good and way cheaper.  It does tons of curl, length, and volume with no smudging or flaking.

What were your favorites in September?

Pic from Photosearch

all products reviewed were either bought, researched, or sampled by me. I am not financially compensated for my reviews