May & June Beauty Favorites

June beauty favorites

There is a lot to cover in this post! I have been testing products like crazy lately, partially thanks to my Sephora obsession (and Amazon Prime). But my skin has never looked better and I can’t wait to share the products that have really stood out to me. So let’s get to it!

Skincare products


skincare favorites

bosnia exfoliating peel gel ($34). I’m obsessed with this stuff. It’s to the point where I can’t stop texting people to tell them about it, and trying to persuade my friends to come over and peel their faces off. (Wait, did that sound creepy?) Kidding! Sort of. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t invited people over to try it though! I’ve never gotten a professional chemical peel before so I can’t compare it to that – but this stuff does almost as good of a job exfoliating my skin as professional microdermabrasion. But it’s incredibly gentle. I use it on clean, 100% dry skin (it’s important that your skin isn’t damp because it will stick to it if it is!), and I massage it on my entire face and it literally lifts the top layer of my skin right off. The dead skin, that is. It’s crazy effective and seeing the skin coming right off is equal parts gross and satisfying. I then wash everything off with water and my skin is soft and ready for a moisturizer and makeup application. It’s ahhhh-mmaaazzzinng! Seriously. Go buy this stuff NOW.
Bosnia Exfoliating Peel Gel, $34, available at Sephora.

OSEA eyes and lips ($60). At least once a day, I use this cream under my eyes, on my lips, and sometimes on my entire face if it needs a little extra tightening. It’s especially effective on freshly exfoliated skin after the peel I described above. It’s a fantastic moisturizer that visibly firms and tightens my skin while hydrating it at the same time. I’ve seen such a noticeable difference in my skin since I started using it, especially under my eyes and on my lips. I discovered the brand OSEA when they reached out to me a few months ago and sent three products to try (with no obligation to write about any of them.) I was completely blown away by all three products and honestly use them every day. In addition to this moisturizer, I highly recommend and will absolutely be re-purchasing the OSEA face oil (use it under moisturizer) and gentle cleanser.
OSEA Eyes and Lips, $60, available through oseamalibu.com and Amazon.

neutrogena hydro-boost gel cream ($13.84). I honestly love the entire Neutrogena Hydro-Boost line of products! They’re comparable and often better than their department store competition. This eye cream is super light and super gentle. I have really sensitive skin, and it’s the only cream that has never made the skin around my eyes red or irritated at all. I love this for hot days when thicker creams feel like they’re melting on my face. It gives my skin that extra boost without feeling thick or heavy.
Neutrogene Hydro-Boost Gel Cream, $13.84, available on Amazon.

Body products


body favorites

donna karen cashmere mist deodorant ($25). Sorry if this is TMI, but I have had a heck of a time finding a deodorant that works for me. At this point, I feel like I have tried everything under the sun. This Donna Karen deodorant kept coming up in the top rated deodorant lists online… But $25 for deodorant? It sounded ludicrous to me. Finally, after trying so many drugstore deodorants that failed me and I was unable to return, I bought this stuff figuring I’d just take it back to Sephora and get my money back if it didn’t work. In fact, I was extremely skeptical and actually planned to return it. Then I tried it. And to my surprise, it works so, so well. I only need a tiny bit and I’m dry all day and it even works through the night. The smell is subtle but really lovely and feminine. I’m actually considering buying the cashmere mist perfume to go with it. But is it weird to buy a perfume to match your deodorant? Probably. But do I care? Meh.
Donna Karen Cashmere Mist Deodorant, $25 at Sephora and Nordstrom.

hydrocortisone cream ($6.49) + tend skin ($10.82). After my last bikini wax from Angie at The Wax Shack, I discovered that regular application of hydrocortisone cream and Tend Skin is the perfect cocktail of products to prevent ingrown hairs and irritation after waxing and shaving. Ingrown hairs and red bumps have always been a big issue for me so I swore off waxing years ago. I’m excited to be embracing waxing again now that I know what products to use, because waxing really does do so much better of a job than shaving. Directions for use: Apply Tend Skin a couple times a day leading up to your wax, to prevent ingrown hairs from forming. Then the night after your wax, apply hydrocortisone cream to relieve the irritation and red bumps. Apply hydrocortisone cream the following day as well. And then for the days after that, until you have no sign of irritation or ingrown hairs, use Tend Skin followed by hydrocortisone cream.
Hydrocortisone cream 1%, $6.49, available at Target.
Tend Skin, $10.82, available at Amazon.

Makeup


makeup favorites

colorscience sunforgettable® loose mineral sunscreen brush broad spectrum spf 50 ($25 for travel size). We all know SPF is important. And when you’re going to be out in the sun for more than a few hours, it’s especially important to re-apply. But I hate messing up my makeup every few hours to re-apply sunscreen. That’s where powder sunscreens come in handy! You can apply it directly over your makeup and it’s matte and keeps your makeup intact while giving you that extra protection you need on a sunny day. This one even has pigment in it so you get a re-application of foundation. I bought the travel size to take when Carter and I go to Asia at the end of the month, but I’ve found myself using it regularly in Portland because it’s just so dang convenient.
colorscience sunforgettable® loose mineral sunscreen brush broad spectrum spf 50, $25 for the travel size at Sephora.

Nars ‘Amour’ blush ($30). I’ve been a longtime fan of the cult favorite Nars ‘Orgasm’ blush. But ever since the lady who did my wedding makeup explained to me that shimmer blushes are rarely flattering (think about it – would you ever put a shimmer highlighter on the apples of your cheeks?), I’ve been searching for a replacement for the shimmery Orgasm blush. So I was absolutely delighted to discover the Nars ‘Amour’ blush – which is pretty much the exact same color as Orgasm, but without the shimmer. Score! Check out the comparison of Orgasm (on the left) with Amour below.

Nars blush comparison

Nars ‘Amour’ blush, $30 at Sephora and Nordstrom.

mac pro longwear liquid lipstick in ‘unchanging’ ($25). This is pretty much the perfect Kylie Jenner-esque color (and I mean that in a good way!) It’s nude-ish without being pale enough to wash you out. The lipstick really is long-wear – it even lasts through a meal! The issue with most long-wear lipsticks is that they’re incredibly drying, but this one comes with a clear gloss on the other side that helps rectify that problem. I have a couple other colors from this line of lipsticks but this is the one I reach for regularly because it really compliments any makeup look and outfit. I’ve also lent this color out to a handful of my friends and it somehow manages to look good on everybody!
MAC Pro Longwear Liquid Lipstick in ‘Unchanging’, $25, available at Nordstrom.


hair favorites

Dry shampoo

batiste dry shampoo ($7.62). I’m always on the hunt for an effective and affordable dry shampoo. Although I’ve repurchased Tresemme’s in the past, but I’ve never been in love with it. I’ve tried a handful of others, some salon-quality and some drugstore, but nothing was ever worth reporting back about. Then I discovered this one by Bastise and fell in love! The price is right, the texture and consistency is spot on, and it makes my hair look clean after days of not washing it! Since going through my first full-size bottle, I’ve ordered three travels sizes (pictured above) and another full size bottle in various scents. They’re all yummy but my favorites are the cherry and the original scent.
Batiste Dry Shampoo, $7.62, available through Amazon.


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Why I Purchase Beauty Products from Sephora Over Nordstrom

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I’m guessing that, like myself, most of you are Nordstrom devotees. So it might come as a surprise to you that I’m advocating for Sephora over Nordstrom in this post.

Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to clothing and shoe shopping, I’m all about Nordstrom.

As much as I love Shopbop, Revolve, Zappos, Bloomingdales, Saks, Amazon, etc. – when we’re talking clothes and shoes, if Nordstrom is carrying the same product, I’ll almost always buy it there instead so I can benefit from Nordstrom’s price-matching, unparalleled customer service and generous return policy.

But over the past year, I’ve been defaulting to Sephora over Nordstrom when it comes to my cosmetics and skincare purchases. Here’s why:

  • Sephora’s free Beauty Insider loyalty program gives you the oppertunity to try awesome, deluxe sample products that you might not discover otherwise. Sure, Nordstrom will throw a few one-time use samples into your bag, but Sephora’s deluxe samples are usually around 1.8 ounces (perfect for travel!) so you can actually get a lot of use out of them. AND Sephora has a big, ever-changing selection of them to choose from.
  • Sephora gives all members of their loyalty program free gifts during their birthday month. You don’t even have to buy anything to redeem it. All you have to do is sign up for the free program! In fact, that’s how I discovered and fell in love with Nars lipstick pencils, which you’ve seen pop up on the blog over and over again. I’m still using my free pencils from last July – that’s long they’ve lasted me!
  • Sephora will make you a sample of pretty much any product they carry, for free. Is there a serum you’ve been wanting to try but aren’t ready to commit to buying? Get a sample! All you have to do is ask!
  • Sephora’s value sets are fantastic! They are always a great deal, and there are tons to choose from.
  • Sephora’s return policy rivals Nordstrom’s. Both will take back used products if you have a receipt. In fact, I recently returned a half-used bottle of St. Tropez In-Shower Tanning Lotion to Sephora because it didn’t work for me (as an aside: I’m devastated this product was a bust – such a great concept!) I had been using the product for about three weeks and wasn’t seeing any results, so I took it back to Sephora, showed my receipt (in my email), and got a full refund!

With all that said, occasionally Nordstrom will have slightly better prices on individual products because of their price matching policy. If something is on sale at a rival department store, Nordstrom will match the price and provide free shipping.

Oh yes, shipping. That’s one area where Nordstrom has a leg up. It’s always free! However, for only $10 a year you can upgrade to Sephora’s free 2-day shipping on all orders. 2 days is faster than Nordstrom usually ships, so if you shop for cosmetics online often, I think this benefit is totally worth $10.

Last but not least, Nordstrom carries a few lines that Sephora doesn’t. For example, MAC and La Mer – to name a few that come to mind. But for every line Nordstrom carries that Sephora doesn’t, Sephora carries way more that Nordstrom doesn’t.

So at the end of the day, my purchasing decision usually comes down to the specific products I’m looking for. But overall, these days I’m leaning way more toward Sephora than Nordstrom when it comes to beauty products, cosmetics, and skincare. The rewards are just too good to miss out on!

*This is NOT a sponsored post by Sephora or Nordstrom. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.


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Why I Swear by Oil Cleansing and the Double Cleansing Method

Double cleansing and oil cleansing

Over the past year, I’ve become a major proponent of oil cleansing my face. But when I bring this up in conversation, it’s usually reciprocated by blank stares and lots of skeptical questions (which I’ll address in this post).

And when I first heard about oil cleansing, I was skeptical too. For as far back as I can remember, the number one thing I looked for in skincare products was “oil free.” Oil-free acne washes, oil-free moisturizers, oil-free foundations, oil-control mattifing products… As someone who struggled with oily skin most of her life, voluntarily adding oil to my face was a hard pill to swallow.

But when I kept hearing about oil cleansing in magazines and blogs – and how even those of us with oily skin can benefit from it – I decided to do some more research on the method. At the end of the day, I trusted the science behind oil cleansing and decided to give it a go.

And you guys, I’m so glad I did. Oil cleansing has improved the texture of my skin enormously. It has helped get rid of blackheads on my nose. It has significantly reduced my breakouts. And it’s a genuinely enjoyable part of my skincare regimen.

I promise you, this is not some crazy beauty fad that skincare companies (and bloggers like myself) have suddenly decided to promote. It is a noteworthy, significant part of my skincare regimen that has done wonders for my skin over the past year.

I am not an expert, a dermatologist, or in any way qualified to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do to your skin. I’m just telling you what has worked for me, because perhaps it will work for you too.

Oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin – all can benefit from oil cleansing. It’s just a matter of finding the right cleanser and strategy for you. And it might take a little trial and error to get there.

What exactly is oil cleansing?
Oil cleansing is the process of washing your face using oil.

What are the benefits of washing my face with oil?
Oil removes makeup, lifts off superficial dirt, and dissolves oils that are clogging your pores (this is basic chemistry – like dissolves like). It does exactly what you want a cleanser to do, without stripping your skin like many cleansers do.

Won’t oil cleansing clog my pores?
In my experience, as an acne-prone woman, no. I’ve been doing this for the past year and it hasn’t once clogged my pores. In fact, it had the opposite effect and has actually helped clear up my adult acne.

But I can only attest to the oil cleansing products I’ve tried personally, which are listed at the end of this post.

How do I oil cleanse?
Essentially, there are two ways to do it. I’ve done both but my personal preference is the double cleansing method.

Traditional oil cleansing:
1) Morning and night, I start with a single pump of this stuff, then massage it all over my face for about 30 seconds to a minute, really letting the oil absorb. This is a great time to stimulate circulation in my face, which is a nice bonus.
2) Then you can use a warm, wet washcloth to wipe the oil off, revealing beautiful, nourished skin. No, your skin won’t be oily after this. Just nourished. And depending on your skin type, you may not need an additional moisturizer after this.

Double cleansing method:
Double cleansing is the first two steps in the Korean Skincare Regimen. The Koreans are known for their innovation in skincare and their 10-step regimen is considered the holy grail of skincare. I don’t do all ten steps, but I do swear by double cleansing.
1) Follow step #1 from traditional oil cleansing above.
2) Instead of wiping the oil off with a towel, use a water-based cleanser (I use this one) to dissolve the oil. I also use my Clarisonic on this step, but you don’t need to.
3) Follow with a moisturizer, SPF, and whatever else is part of your existing skincare routine.

What oil should I use for this?
Some people use pure oils you can find in the natural food store for this, but I’ve personally only tried oil products that are specifically formulated for cleansing. I can’t attest to the benefits or disadvantages of straight coconut oil, olive oil, etc. when it comes to using them on your face. (And although I love coconut oil for my body, I wouldn’t suggest using it on your face without doing more research first.) But I do vouch for the following products, all of which I’ve had positive experiences oil cleansing with: Sierra Sage, which is my favorite (update 9/20/16: the company has changed it’s name from Sierra Sage to Green Goo), Burt’s Bees, Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser, Boscia Cleansing Oil, Clinique, and Bare Minerals.


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Stylish Holiday Gifts for Your Girlfriends

Holiday Gifts for Your Stylish Girlfriends

Holiday Gifts for Your Stylish Girlfriends

In the past, my girlfriends and I haven’t done holiday gifts for one another because there’s just too big of a group of us for it to be feasible, financially. But this year, we decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange – where we each buy one special gift for one person – and we’re all really excited about it! (Because we’re all busy and geographically spread out, we used an app to draw each other’s names, in case you’re thinking of doing something similar.)

Each one of our styles and personalities is very different from the next – so that really adds to the personal nature of each gift. I’ve already ordered the gift for my person, so I won’t spoil it here. But here are some other really fun ideas for your girlfriends – with a range of items starting at $9 and going all the way up to $810, in case you’re feeling extra generous.


Holiday Gifts for Your Girlfriends

1. Luxe acrylic stackable makeup storage system ($29.99 and up at The Container Store): I have this system in my bathroom and it has made me passable as an organized person! There are many similar systems out there but I did a lot of research and these were the highest-quality, most customizable of the acrylic makeup storage options. You can build them as tall as you want or keep it simple. I started with the ‘Large Acrylic Makeup Organize Clear’ and the Wide Medium Drawer. And I’ve recently added the short luxe drawers.

2. Double pom pom hat ($9 at H&M): This hat is such a fun, stylish way to keep warm this season.

3. Wildfox ‘Shopping is my Cardio’ sweatshirt ($54.99 at SAKS OFF 5th): I’ve had my eye on this sweatshirt for over a year now and it finally went on sale! For the friend who would rather shop than work out (which I can totally relate to!), this would be a real winner. Also, everything Wildfox puts out is insanely soft and cozy – so you know this will be one of the most comfortable pieces in her closet.

4. Moscow Mule mugs ($40 for two at Nordstrom): These gorgeous copper mugs look just as great on display on a bar cart as they do with a drink in them.

5. Monogram initial necklace ($105 to $810, depending on your selection, at BaubleBar): This necklace is simple, classy, and personal. It comes in various sizes and metals – I’m personally most partial to the small rose gold version.

6. M.A.C lip & eye kit ($59.50 at Nordstrom): This set is a beautiful, flattering color pallet. It’s a lot of makeup bang for your buck.

7. Watch ($20 at Nordstrom): This watch is darling and comes in black and other neutral colors too – but I think the navy is really pretty and something fun that she wouldn’t necessarily buy for herself.

8. Suede tassel gloves ($34.99 at H&M): These genuine suede gloves (yes H&M sells some premium quality items online these days) look and feel so luxe and high-end. This is a great gift for a real fashion girl. These are a STEAL.

9. Lipstick mug ($25 at Shopbop): A super cute mug that will make your friend feel extra girly.

10. ‘Where’s Karl?’ fashion book ($16 at Shopbop): Another great fashion girl gift. This ‘Where is Waldo’-esque coffee table book has you searching for the iconic Karl Lagerfeld as well as other big-name people in the fashion game.

11. Silk pajamas ($69.99 at H&M): There are few things that feels more luxurious than sleeping in genuine silk pajamas. At only $69.99, these silk PJs are a game changer.

You may also enjoy the other two holiday gift guides I put together this year: Gifts for the men in your life + gifts for you mom.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite from the list? What are you getting your girlfriends this year?


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