Beauty Report: Skin Care, Skin Care, Skin Care

I've gotten a few questions about my skincare routine so I thought I'd share the full rundown here. On a daily basis, my routine is quick and to the point. I hate the feel of a dirty or dry face so I wash and moisturize religiously. In the evenings I try to put a little more love into the routine and at least once a week I carve out some at-home spa time for face masks and such. 

Choosing skin care products can be expensive and overwhelming so I like to go on the recommendations of my mom (who has tested just about everything) and my friends. Local blogger Meg Biram posted 22 nuggets of wisdom from her dermatologist that I enjoyed and also got me thinking it's probably time to check back in with a derm. 

All the products are linked and listed below but here's the basic outline:  

AM Routine

PM Routine

  • Cleanse with Philosophy Purity Made Simple & my Clarisonic
  • Apply Thayers Witch Hazel toner
  • Apply Dr. Perricone Eye Cream, Serum & Moisturizer
  • 2-3 times a week I'll swap out the Dr. Perricone routine for the Korres facial oil

Once A Week

  • Peter Thomas Roth Enzyme mask
  • Sephora Clay Mask
  • Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Serum
  • m-61 PowerGlow Peel

If you buy nothing else on this list, buy this product. I picked up a bottle of Thayers witch hazel toner at Target after reading all the hype and thought, what the hell? I have never been a fan of toners because they dried my face out way too much. Thayers contains no alcohol so you won't get dried out, but it does contain witch hazel which soothes any irritations your skin might have. I have some small red splotchy spots on my cheeks and the Thayers toner has completely gotten rid of them. Read the reviews on Amazon if you don't believe such a simple product can do so much.

I've been using Dr. Perricone's Pre:Empt line for awhile now and I still see great results. Bright, glowy skin. Moisturized and happy. It's probably time for something a touch stronger since I'm 35 and this line is billed as being for younger women....but we'll see. 

I'm still a huge fan of the Nuxe Huile Proidgieuse dry oil, but it's become harder and harder to find. This oil by Korres has been a nice replacement. The added bonus is that it contains Vitamin C which makes a huge difference when you're going for that "glowing from within" look. 

I enjoy doing a weekly mask routine. It's a little "me time" and it makes me feel like I'm getting rid of the gross and grime from the week. I liked the Sephora sheet masks so much I decided to try their clay versions and ended up loving those too. One pouch holds 4-5 full-face masks making their $8 per pouch price tag a huge bang for your buck. 

The Peter Thomas Roth enzyme peel is simultaneously gross and satisfying. You apply a thin layer of the gel across your face and gently rub it in. The result is all your dead skin cells sloughing off, which you can feel and see. See? Gross...but satisfying. 

This part of my routine and the next one do the real heavy lifting. This retinol serum has Vitamins C and E in it and is a pro at renewing your skin. The results are visible over night, brighter more refreshed skin that doesn't look tired. I use this once a week. But be warned, while retinol is great, using it nightly is something you have to acclimate your skin to. Start with once a week and work up from there, slowly, over time. Otherwise you'll end up with peeling, sad skin.

I got these little PowerGlow Peel pads as a free sample one day at Blue Mercury and ended up also loving them. Each packet contains one towelette that you swipe over a clean, dry face. The result is a temporary tingle that I would say goes from low to medium intensity before quickly simmering down to nada. Apply your normal skin care regiment after the tingle has ended and your face is dry.

I like to use the Peter Thomas Roth retinol serum and the PowerGlow Peel once a week, staggering them apart by 3-4 days.

Even with all that jazz above I still have some skin tone inconsistencies or blemishes that I like to cover up. I've come to prefer a matte look and switched to the NARS Velvet Matt Skin Tint recently. A little goes a long way so the tube lasts forever and the tint itself provides slightly more coverage than other products while still being sheer and buildable. 

That's all I got, folks! While I love playing with make up and other products, I don't futz with my skin care routine all that much. Is there anything I should try? Any other miracle products I haven't heard of yet? Let me know! 

Things I Haven't Bought Myself But Maybe Someone Else Will

I really love the holidays. But more than the holidays I love surprises and gifts absolutely check the surprise box for me. Last year I did a gift guide that would last all year long and this one is no different. These items stand the test of time, luxury, and usefulness and are solid gift ideas for the whole year round. 

The oversized alpaca cardigan by Cuyana looks like the perfect item for evening and weekend lounging. Basically this is what I'd wear when I'm pretending I'm Olivia Pope in my apartment. While this gift comes in at $225 I can vouch for Cuyana's quality and luxuriousness. It's a piece that will last forever and inspire a pennies-on-the-dollar cost per wear. 

If you really love someone, especially someone who travels, help them upgrade their travel arsenal. I traveled, on average, once a month this year and am already in love with the Lo & Sons OG bag, a mandatory for anyone who travels a lot, but this little wristlet would make breezing through security even easier with all the essentials in one place. It comes in six colors and runs $95 (though there's some really great sales going on right now!). 

Okay, I have both these books already, but! Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed ($9.09 on Amazon) was one of the best gifts I've ever been given. It's a compilation of letters from her advice column as Dear Sugar. Strayed's style is bold and forthright, without sacrificing warmth and humanity. Brave Enough ($10.12 on Amazon) is a collection of her own quotes from a wide array of her essays, letters and books. These two go together like butter and warm tortillas. Gift them accordingly. 

I've fallen more in love with my home this year than is reasonable. An enduring element of my homebody-ness is my love for a cozy blanket. Shupaca makes alpaca blankets that are all at the same time buttery soft, big enough for two (or to wrap yourself up as a solo burrito), beautiful and warm without being suffocating. A 70x90 blanket goes for $195. 

I love magazines. The paper quality, the smell...even getting it in the mail feels special. This year I fell for Nautilus, a science magazine. "Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us." Grab a $39 year-long subscription for the science lover in your life. 

Everything in its place and a place for everything. While I'm not into knickknacks around the house, a functional knickknack is a whole other deal. These copper spheres double as little orbs of storage for any number of smallish things. Together, the pair runs $234 while the large is $150 and the small is $110. I can almost always think of better ways to spend that kind of money but I would not be sad at all to receive these beauties. 

If you're going to watch an embarrassing amount of Netflix, you might as well do it with high quality sound. AMIRIGHT?! The Sonos Playbar combines superior sound quality with streaming capabilities for your music. At $649 this is certainly a gift for someone special.

Cold butter is for pie crusts and the damn birds, I say. There's nothing worse than trying to butter your bread with a cold, stiff pat of butter that smooshes and tears it apart. Enter: the french butter keeper from Sawyer Ceramics. For just $35 you can store your butter at room temperature with an airtight seal.

More alpaca...clearly I'm obsessed. Hey, it's warmer than wool and way softer! This is another entry from the Cuyana universe. (In case you were wondering, their motto is Fewer, Better.) Their infinity scarf comes in at $75 and I have no doubt it would become a staple in anyone's cold weather wardrobe. 

My best friend Tia keeps self publishing and they keep being beautiful, thoroughly entertaining hits that parents and children both love to read. This year's sequel to Two! is Three! and can be found on Amazon for $7.99 for the littlest ones on your gifting list! 

For the beauty loving lady in your life, consider the Glossier Phase 2 make up set for $50. You can choose from six gloss shades, five concealer shades and three brow shades to customize a pretty gift box. I haven't tried any of their products yet but they get rave reviews online. 

That's all I got this year, folks. I hope you found a gift or two that inspires you! 

Spring Beauty Report: Going Deep Edition

Some time around December I became obsessed with moisture. Moisturizing my hair. Moisturizing my face. Moisturizing everything...because everything was so damn dry! My skin dried out before the day ended. My lips were chapped. My hair was brittle. It all just made me so sad. 

This round up is for all the ladies trying to find their way out of the winter doldrums and into that spring glow! 

I discovered these little face masks during a bad week when I need a little treat-yo-self indulgence that wasn't going to break the bank. At $6 a pop they certainly don't hurt the wallet and they deliver whatever brightening/revitalizing/deep moisturizing effect they promise.

I discovered CeraVe from a friend who would apply it every time we met. I tried it once out of sheer curiosity and it had more than one selling point: there's no scent to battle with your perfume of choice, no oily residue that takes forever to sink in and it has a deep moisturizing effect that lasts even through the repeated hand washings that cold season brought. I now apply it nightly on both hands and feet and there's a noticeable difference in the softness of both.

Okay, talk about buying things I don't need! This Bobbi Brown beach oil had been tantalizing me from afar all last year. The packaging was just so pretty, it inspired me to purchase. After many months of resisting and too many days with dried out skin, I gave in. Applied on damp skin, just after your shower it works wonders. Plus it has the kind of scent that takes you right to a warm day on the beach. 

I know this is weird since mandarine oranges aren't exactly a beauty product. A couple years ago, after eating two or three of these palm sized beauties a day, I realized my skin was absolutely glowing. In the dead of winter I had a freshness to my complexion that only a bronzer or brightener could bring. Since I was using neither, I deduced an extra dose of Vitamin C was the culprit. Instead of spending your hard earned mula on a Vitamin C serum, try giving yourself a dose from the inside out and see what happens. 

Sheer curiosity and a love for Nuxe's dry oil brought me to this stuff. Plus it was on sale one day at Target. Talk about packing a moisture punch. You don't need very much of this balm for it to do its job. I apply a little extra of this stuff every night before bed and wake up with silky soft lips. 

My afore mentioned brittle hair was driving me nuts and making me panic! I could see breakage in my hair each morning after straightening or drying my hair. I went to Sephora and bee-lined for the Living Proof section. I am 100% bought in on their products and have fallen for each one I've tried. Their Restore mask is no different - two times a week I use this as my standard conditioner and one night a week I leave it in for a half hour as a deep treatment. It's the only thing that's helped my hair make it to May.

These are my deep moisturizing go-tos for now, how about you guys? Any hidden gems I should know about? Let me know! 

A Gift Guide To Last All Year Long

Everyone and their mom is publishing a gift guide but they all feel pointedly Christmas. I thought I'd pull together a wide ranging guide that you can bookmark and keep all year long. Plus, none of those January babies in your life want another food basket from Zabars. None of them. 

I hope these indoor/outdoor blankets are as functional as they are beautiful. I can already see myself, late summer, on the beach wrapped up in one....sigh. Oh! And they donate a blanket to a local homeless shelter for every blanket purchased. A feel good purchase in so many ways. 

I travel. Frequently enough that I totally understand the value of having plenty of modular storage options. But the more you travel the more you want those modular storage options to NOT be another Ziploc bag. This Baggu leather clutch would be great for storing make up, hair items or even electronics chargers/cords/plugs. 

I like a good inspirational poster. I like a good inspirational poster with a curse word on it. Who wouldn't!? This one is good for the folks in your life who have equal parts sass and ambition. 

When I read Anthology Magazine I just want my life to feel and look like what's in those pages. I love the stories, the profiles and the often hand made products this magazine features. Grab as many back issues as you can for the chill but stylish person in your life. 

Going along with that stylish individual theme, The Citizenry is one of my favorite shops of curated international goods. Not surprisingly, many of them are from Mexico and this colorful lumbar pillow will soon find a spot in my home. Not into the colors? The black and white version is also quite beautiful for the color averse among us. 

Not to brag, but I have some pretty brilliantly talented friends. Chief among them is Tia Perkin. She penned, illustrated and funded the publishing of Two!, a charming board book for your favorite two-year-old who also wreaks havoc on your home. It's based on the misadventures of her twin boys, who I love with all my heart, and it captures them perfectly. Get this for all the kids and parents on your list this year. 

Like I said, I travel a bunch. The Lo and Sons OG bag is a traveling lady's game changer. Stylish and sleek, it's a total sleeper since you can also easily pack a long weekend in the thing or pair it with a carry-on approved roller bag and pack a week's worth of I-don't-know-what-I'll-want-to-wear outfits, shoes and toiletries. Bonus: the bag is 25% during the holiday season, making it $221. 

Okay, this is gonna sound weird. These lightbulbs are amazing. Ever heard of the internet of things? No? Ok. How about wirelessly controlled lights? Yeah? And you're probably all like, "Oh why do I need that? That sounds silly." Don't make me wax poetic about how nice it is to wake up to a gentle simulated sunrise when it's 34 degrees out and dark as a cave. Or how you can set your lights to turn on when you're approaching your home (even nicer when it gets dark at 5:30pm, way before you ever get home)! Or how you can go full on mood lighting right from your phone while you sit on the couch and binge watch The Mindy Project. Not convinced? Psh. Don't even with me. 

I live and die by this stuff. In the winter it's a savior for my dry skin and my dry hair. In the summer, the subtle glittery version is my go-to before I walk out the door or walk onto the beach. It has a very gentle scent and has a dry powder finish that makes your hands and face feel all velvety. 

I love these little key tags inspired by old school hotel keys. Plus, it's a nice little nod to say, I was thinking of you, but you didn't break the bank doing so. 

Okay, I don't actually have this ring, but I want it. Someone, out there, if you really love me, you can get me this and I'll be the happiest girl in the world. The matching earrings are also gorgeous but I won't get greedy or anything. 

I have been using Deborah Lippmann's base and top coat for ages and love them. I'd happily welcome any of her iconic polishes into my collection, too. 

I'm planning a holiday party right now so I've got glassware and other classy bar items on the mind. These champagne coupes also double as super delicate cocktails glasses. Even better! From fizzy to old fashioned, these little diddies would be a welcome addition to my bar. 

All right, like I said, bookmark this. Return to it. Use it as your whole year gift'll never have to think about gifts in a pinch again! 

Fall Beauty Report 2015

Listen, I'm not going to call this beauty blogging. Because not by any stretch of the imagination am I a beauty blogger. Nope, I'm just a girl who buys too many beauty products (and who's mother sends her even more) and wants to share what's worth all that hard earned money and what isn't. I've been sending these little roundups to an email list of ladies I know and after the last one multiple people told me I should post this stuff online. So, why not? I'll give it a try! 

Just to get some housekeeping out of the way: most of my links will point to Amazon directly or through the Shop Style affiliate programs. I'll get a smidgen of money for anything you buy off my links, but if you don't like that, that's okay too. Go all indie and find the products without my link. But, on to the good stuff...

Operation, Grow More Hair

My hair grows at a disgustingly slow rate. It really bums me out. But! If I hunker down and treat it well, then I see marked improvement. This summer I really started to enjoy Olly Vitamins' Undeniable Beauty Gummy Vitamins, 60 gummies for $27.51 on Amazon (Prime, too!). Not like I started sprouting hair magically or anything, but I could tell a difference in the overall health of my hair and nails! 

Next up in the hair routine is Wen Lavender Re Moist Intensive Hair Treatment by Chaz Dean, $39.75. I try to deep condition with this stuff about once a week (for at least 20min) and it makes my hair infinitely more manageable and super soft and bouncy. It's pricey, yes, but a little goes a long way.  

Dirty Hair, Don't Care

I'm also trying to wash my hair less. Not because shampoo is supposedly bad for your hair, but because I am lazy and hate spending 20min blowing out my hair every day. Three products have enabled this laziness without making it simultaneously gross.

I use the Living Proof Prime Style Extender Hair Primer, $13.67, on the roots of my wet hair, then mix a little of the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment, $17.48, all over. I use the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, $22, at night (I get really oily at night. Dunno what that is.) until I just can't stand it anymore and have to start over once again. It's hard to describe it, but even though it sounds like I'm using a lot of product, Living Proof stuff always feels like it's washing out and somehow makes my hair even shinier and stronger the more I use it. 

Selfie Ready (Or Something)

Thanks to my friend Jill I am finally wearing sunscreen on my face, daily. It only took several endorsements and 33 years of life to be a responsible person with the sun and my face. Anthelios 50 Tinted Mineral Ultra Fluid Sunscreen by La Roche-Posay is $33.50 and lasts forrrrrever. Don't be turned off by the tinted bit, it's actually an insurance policy against looking ashy or chalky due to sunscreen residue. Or as the woman at BlueMercury told me, you'll never look oddly white in your selfies.

Another note, this stuff layers really really well with other face creams and foundations you might be wearing. I have enduring love for Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum for $95, thanks to my mom and Chanel's Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup for $47 thanks to Cecelia

Cold Weather Skin Sucks

It took exactly two days of below-65 temperatures for my skin to start screaming for moisture. The only thing I use, again, thanks to Mom, is Josie Maran Whipped Argan Body Butter, $35. I dig this link and deal because you also get a travel size version with your regular sized tub. 


Of course, the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse dry oil, $29, is a perennial favorite for all seasons. I love it for face, hands and even hair. This stuff also lasts forever.

Perfect Pout

We were eating bacon cheese fries at Shake Shack when Cathy asked me, "Okay what's the deal with your lipstick. It hasn't budged the entire meal." Tru dat, my friends! Because Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick, $28, is like a tattoo on your lips! My friend Kate told me to pair it with the Hourglass Panoramic Long Wear Lip Pencil, also $28. There have been days when I haven't needed to reapply the stuff, even after many cups of coffee and meals/snacks galore. Not a lie. The stuff is worth every penny. (I use the orange-y red color called Raven.)

That's all I got for now! I don't do these little round ups very often but when I do, they are for products that are truly great and I am 100% happy with. Got anything I should try? Leave me a note in the comments! I'll try anything once and I love locking in on a favorite product I can always rely on.