Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Beauty Deals and Steals

Hi Lovelies!
I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend filled with friends, family, and lots of delicious food.  Now, it's Monday and we are celebrating one of my favorite shopping days: Cyber Monday!!  Black Friday is great and all, but after the enormous food baby I usually wake up with, I'm in no shape to deal with hordes of shoppers and long lines.  Enter Cyber Monday, with its just-as-good deals without requiring me to get out of my PJs.  Bless.

Here are some of my favorite beauty deals and steals:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Inspired Skin Care - Pumpkin Edition

This season, take your skin care cues from your dinner table!  These products feature the Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin, to ensure your skin looks its best this season.

Pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamins C and A to protect, heal and stimulate collagen production, and Zinc Oxide, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and aids in skin repair.  Pumpkin is also packed with enzymes that naturally dissolve dull, dead skin for a glowing complexion.

This creamy cleanser contains pumpkin and honey enzymes, to gently exfoliate and hydrate while cleansing.  It completely dissolves dirt, oil and makeup, leaving skin soft and smooth.  Perfect for all skin types!

This scrub combines gentle jojoba beads with pumpkin and fruit enzymes for both physical and chemical exfoliation.  It also contains powerful anti-inflammatories to ensure your skin never gets irritated.  Use 2 to 3 times a week for a glowing complexion!

This mask from my beloved Sanitas line combines pumpkin enzymes with hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane to gently exfoliate while hydrating.  Right after using this mask, you'll see smooth, soft skin with a decrease in fine lines and discoloration.  

DIY: Pumpkin Mask
Or... you can create your very own mask at home!  Combine the following ingredients, apply to face and rinse off after 10 minutes.
3 tsp. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. whipping cream

This intense exfoliator will ensure your body is just a smooth as your now-glowing face!  With natural pumpkin, papaya, and lactic enzymes to exfoliate, plus caffeine to tone and smooth any dimples, this scrub has everything you need to keep body skin smooth and hydrated this winter.

I just love the scent of pumpkin products!  They are so soothing and comforting.  What are your favorite holiday scents or products?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Keeping Skin Summer Fresh with MBeze!

Here in Denver, we have had one of the hottest, stickiest summers I can remember.  Keeping my skin hydrated and fresh-smelling without the heavy, waxy residue left over from most lotions has been tough... that is, until I found MBeze!
MBeze is a natural skin care and cosmetics company that has a great line-up of everything you could need to keep skin fresh and soft, like body and facial oils, fragrances, and deodorants.

Once Bitten Natural Body Oil
This natural body oil is incredibly lightweight and absorbs immediately - so no sticky residue!  It also smells amazing, with apple blossom, vanilla and a hint of lime, it smells really fresh and not overly sweet; perfect for summer!  On top of all that, it has Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E in a natural oil base to help soften and protect skin.  According to MBeze:

"Each hand-poured blend contains oils that are full of vitamins and known for their ability to break up scar tissue, reduce & prevent stretchmarks, regenerate skin cells, and moisturize to maintain a soft and healthy glow."

Wow!  That is one hard-working body oil!  I love applying this oil after showering; it leaves my skin soft and smooth all day with gorgeous scent that really lasts.  It also works great any time my skin needed a little pick-me-up or some additional glow.

Ife Natural Perfume
The Ife Natural Perfume smells sweet and is kind of... addictive.  This pthalate-free fragrance comes in a coconut and jojoba oil base, and it smells mainly like strawberry, with musk and sandalwood to make it a bit more grown up.  It layers really nicely and comes in a small roll-on, perfect for touching up throughout the day.  Berry scents don't normally smell good on me, but this perfume smelled really natural and made me feel like I'd been running through a field of strawberries!  Even as it wears down, it leaves the softest hint of strawberry on the skin.  So pretty!!

MBeze has several different fragrance options to choose from, and also offers a non-scented option in the body oil for those of us that prefer our own scent.  Check them out and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Juara Skincare Review

Juara is a vegan skin care line based on historical Indonesian herbal and botanical treatments.  Using traditional Indonesian botanical remedies like healing teas, sandalwood, turmeric, tamarind and rice, combined with western science, these products have an east-meets-west attitude towards anti-aging and skin health.
Juara was kind enough to send me some samples of their daily skin care regimen of cleansing, toning and moisturizing.  Here's what I found:

Rice Facial Cleanser
This foaming, suflate-free cleanser leaves skin soft and hydrated, removing all traces of dirt, oil and makeup.  With rice starch as the active ingredient, known for its soothing and softening properties, as well as its ability to decrease moisture loss, this cleanser works great for all skin types.  
I found this cleanser to have an amazingly pleasant smell, almost like slipping into a tropical vacation - with sweet citrus and warm coconut scents, it's a great way to wake up the senses in the morning.
I especially liked using this cleanser with my Clarisonic - it left my skin feeling super clean and soft!  The only thing I didn't love is that it left my skin feeling a little too "squeaky clean," probably due to the foaming or fragrance ingredients, but after using the toner (reviewed next), my skin felt perfectly soft and supple.
Water, Disodium Lauroamphodiacetate, Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Rice (Oryza sativa) Starch, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Glycol Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Caprylate, Phenypropanol, Fragrance.

Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner
Juara describes this product as a "toner serum", and I completely get why.  This toner is super hydrating, just as the name implies, with a slightly thicker consistency than most toners.  It comes out of the bottle with a brownish tinge, which threw me off a bit, but it disappears perfectly into the skin, leaving it soft and glowing.  The oil-free liquid contains all kinds of skin-loving ingredients, like black, green and white teas for a super antioxidant boost, and tamarind extract to boost hydration and sooth skin.  It also contains rice bran extract to minimize irritation and de-stress skin, and hyaluronic acid to further hydrate and plump.
This product has the most impressive ingredient list of them all, with mostly actives in the list:

Water, Pentylene Glycol, Tamarind Seed (Tamarindus indica) Extract, White Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea (Camellia sinensis) Extract, Rice (Oryza sativa) Bran Extract, Honey Extract, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Potassium Sorbate.

I swiped this over my face and neck after cleansing and loved the way my skin felt afterwards!  It left me with a great glow and smooth, softened skin.  It also relieved any tightness or "squeakiness" I felt after cleansing. It definitely feels a bit more conditioning than most toners, which is probably why it is dubbed a "toner serum".  Whatever you call it, it's good stuff!

Sweet Black Tea and Rice Facial Moisturizer
This lightweight moisturizer contains fermented black tea (aka Kombucha) to soften and brighten, and Rice Bran Oil to hydrate as its active ingredients.  Rice Brain Oil is an excellent source of natural fatty acids and Vitamin E, both of which are really important for softening, hydrating and protecting skin.
I found this moisturizer to have a great consistency that soaks right into the skin and leaves it with a hydrated glow.  My skin didn't feel oily or dry all day - it was comfortable and soft, which is a big feat because my skin is pretty bipolar when it comes to its dry and oily zones.
Water/Eau, Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) Oil, Emulsifying Wax NF, Avocado (Persea gratissima) Oil Unsaponifiables, Rice Bran (Oryza sativa) Oil, Cyclomethicone, Stearyl Alcohol, Illipe (Shorea stenoptera) Seed Butter, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Squalane, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Hydroxyethylacrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Phenypropanol, Fragrance/Parfum. 

Bottom Line: REALLY LIKE!  The products are really unique in their use of Indonesian botanicals and herbs to soften and hydrate skin.  While I don't love the addition of fragrance in the cleanser and moisturizer, and found the cleanser a bit too... cleansing, I did appreciate the texture and feel of all the products, especially the toner.  If you're looking for a good, hydrating line with strong natural antioxidants, this is a great line for you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Photography Workshop Session

I had the incredible pleasure of working with two of my favorite photographers, Lola and Nasim Mansurov, of Mansurovs Photography this past weekend.  They were holding a photography workshop, and were teaching the art of photographing a model, taking into account lighting, color, shadows, etc.
Here are some of the gorgeous pictures they took:
I LOVE the colors in this shot.  They grey of the dress, yellow of the paintings, and red lips make such a statement!
This shot really allowed the contours of our beautiful model's face to show.  I enhanced them with makeup, and lighting did the rest.
 Beautiful colors again.
Working with a good photographer makes all the difference in the world.  It's also really important to develop a good relationship, as you want to work closely with them to ensure that the makeup is photographing as you intended.  The result will be breathtaking.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy Summer Makeup - Bright Lips

90 Degree summer days call for a less-is-more approach to makeup. One of the easiest and most sweat-resistant ways to get a made up look without a lot off product is by wearing a statement lip on an almost nude face - it gives your face a bright pop of fun summer color without the melt-off. Here are some perfect summer colors that promise to make your pout

Buxom Big & Healthy Lipstick Sydney

I've been obsessed with bright pink lips as the new red ever since seeing Jessica Biel in this perfect color:
This lipstick by Buxom is the perfect bright pink that looks great on all complexions. On top of that, the liner-like texture makes sure it wears all day and doesn't bleed.

This color by Guerlain is the perfect mix between red and berry. It creates a beautiful stain on the lip and comes in a beautiful gold case, so you'll feel luxe just pulling it out of your purse.
For the perfect summer look, just combine these bright lip colors with a clean, dewy complexion and a couple of swipes of mascara for a chic and sweat-proof look.
What are your favorite summer lip colors?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Devita Skin Care Review

Devita is a natural cosmeceutical skin care company based out of Arizona. They make all-natural, vegan, paraben-free and PETA certified products for face and body. From my experience, it's hard to find a natural line of skin care that is also effective. Devita, being a cosmeceutical brand, has found the perfect balance between efficacy and remaining natural! They use cutting edge peptide technology and combine it with well-researched vitamins, minerals and botanical extracts for powerful results.

The DeVita product line uses organic Aloe Vera as a natural and dynamic delivery system - allowing their active Vitamins, Botanicals and Peptides to penetrate and get to work within the skin. You'll find Aloe Vera as the first or second ingredient in almost every one of their products. What you won't find in any products are preservatives. I asked DeVita how this was possible, and here's what they said:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blotting Papers - Summer Makeup Bag Must-Haves

During the warmer, more humid months of summer, it's inevitable that oil and shine will increase. While a dewy glow is pretty, looking like a grease slick is not! That's where blotting tissues come in - by absorbing excess oil and shine without disturbing makeup, they bring your skin back to matte. Blotting papers are also much better for acne-prone skin than caking on the powder to reduce shine. Adding powder to an oily face makes for an unattractive, cakey
breeding ground for sweat and bacteria - gross! Instead, try these picks for blotting papers:

These oil absorbing "sheets" from Clean and Clear are some of my favorites for a few reasons - affordability and effectiveness. At just under $6 for 50 sheets, they're a more affordable option than some others on the market that sell for up to $20! Yikes! These are also really effective - one sheet can take care of sheen on the whole face, completely absorbing oil and keeping makeup in place. The only thing I don't love about these is that they are not made of natural fibers, so aren't biodegradable. But you'll be using a lot less than with blotting papers, so there will be less waste in the end. These are also really easy to find - pick them up at any local drugstore or superstore, or at

These oil absorbing tissues are great two-in-one products - they combine oil absorbing rice paper and mattifying powder in one easy product. I always have these in my kit and my purse to keep my skin looking fresh. One side is just paper, and should be used first to absorb excess oil. The other side has translucent powder or colored powder (I prefer the translucent - it works on all skin colors) that helps to set and refresh makeup. These are also great because they are thick, strong rice paper, so they are very absorbent and sturdy.
They can be found at Sally's and Ulta locations, and online.

If you're in a pinch and don't have blotting papers on hand, you can use toilet seat covers or event toilet paper. Just press and roll off the skin to absorb excess oil.

What are you tricks for fresh summer skin?

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite New Summer Fragrances

Summer always makes me want light, fresh, floral fragrances. I usually have trouble finding new scents or summer releases that I really love, but this year, these two scents had me at the first whiff:

I was at my local Nordstrom store, waiting for a sales specialist to grab a couple of products for me, when I saw this and decided to take a whiff. OMG, I fell in love immediately. I mean, I couldn't even put the bottle down. I had to have it right then and there. Normally when I'm fragrance shopping, I like to wear the scent around for a couple of hours before deciding if I love it or not. That was not the case here! I loved the scent so much that it was not an option for it not to smell good on me (thankfully, it smells great on my skin!).
Philosophy describes the fragrance as: "... a warm, bright floral fragrance that makes a woman feel lighthearted, happy and carefree as if she is wearing a beautifully light sundress on a sunny summer day." I couldn't agree more! This scent makes me want to turn into a cheesy fragrance commercial, frolicking around in a flower field in slow motion.

I was already a fan of the original Daisy fragrance, so when I saw the bright summery packaging of the new Eau So Fresh scent, I had to go in for a sniff. And, again, it was immediate. I knew I loved this scent! It's much softer and more floral than the original Daisy, which I found to have a slightly "warmer" feel.
Described as having notes of natural raspberry, grapefruit, pear, wild violet, apple blossom, musks, cedarwood and plum, this scent is fresh, playful and bubbly. I like that it's got the musk and cedarwood to ground the otherwise-too-sweet floral and fruity blend.
Have you found any new summer fragrances that you absolutely love?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Original Sprout - Natural Hair Care: for Babies and up!

Original Sprout is a personal care line out of California that prides itself on creating products that are biodegradable, 100% vegetarian (vegan), free of phytoestrogens, soy, parabens, glutens, dioxanes from sulfates, phthalates and formaldehydes. Whew! While not all of us may know what these ingredients are and why they are harmful (they do share this info on their website for those of us who'd like to know more), what's important is that Original Sprout takes the time to formulate products that are good for the earth and good for even us big babies :) by excluding these potentially carcinogenic ingredients.

Original Sprout is created by Inga Tritt, mother and master stylist, who created the line for her daughter's thick hair and sensitive skin, leaving out the irritating ingredients found in other hair and bath lines. The company was kind enough to send me some of their hair products to try, and I'm happy to share my experience!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Perfect Springtime Blushes

I am suffering from the worst case of spring fever EVER! Those 70 degree sunny days are such a tease!! I find myself refusing to wear coats on the colder days as a sort of weird denial of the fact that it isn't totally warm-weathered yet. At least I can fake that warm-weather flush with these blushes, that promise to brighten even the most confused winter-into-spring complexions:
Powder Formulas

This blush looks way too pale to do any justice to my olive complexion in the compact, but as soon as it makes contact with the skin, it turns into a gorgeous natural shade of flushed pink that I love! It is perfectly matte and looks really natural, not streaky or chalky at all. With natural oils and Vitamins E and C, it's good for the skin too!

The perfect color for warming up the complexion, this blush works on all skin tones and imparts a sheer, natural glow. Again, it has no shimmer, which I prefer, and blends into the skin beautifully. I even like this on eyelids and lips for a no-fuss look.

Cream Blush

This is the perfect pink color for all skin tones and types. The silicons in it allow it to glide over the skin for a smooth wash of color, while the brush makes sure you can blend it in well. I love the bright pink color for really perking up the complexion, and it has really the perfect consistency: not too silicony, oily, or dry. It leaves the cheeks looking dewy and radiant.

Cheek Stain

Origins Pinch Your Cheeks in Coralberry

This gel stain is the perfect way to get long lasting color without looking like you have any makeup on. Just a tiny dab will do both cheeks - just make sure to rub it in quickly or you'll get a splotchy stain that only comes off with makeup remover. But, stay away from stains if you have any complexion issues, like large pores, scarring or rough texture, as the stain will just catch onto and magnify these issues - not pretty! Otherwise, give it a try - it looks gorgeous and can be used on lips and cheeks. $11.50 at

Hopefully these blushes will give you that touch of springtime that we're all craving!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bridesmaid Beauties

This week, I had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented ladies on a shoot that shows how to take your bridesmaid dress and wear it afterwards. The pictures are stunning!

Here's a sneak preview from our amazing photographer, Lola Mansurov.
I just LOVE all the bright colors against the cement backdrop of the city! This shoot was so fun and turned out great, thanks also to the following talents:
Shoot Styling: Tina Gill of Worthwhile Style
Hair and Hair pieces by Kori Schell (K Schell Designs)
Dresses from Bella Bridesmaid
Photographer-turned-model Audrey Fisher
And of course, thanks to our lovely models!! More pics to come soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

pH and Your Skin

pH balance is very important for the health of the skin. To start, a quick lesson in pH:
pH, or potential of Hydrogen, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline (basic) a solution is on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being acidic, 14 being alkaline, and 7 being neutral.

Now, what does this have to do with your skin?...

Skin has a normal pH between 4.5 and 6.5. This naturally acidic pH is the body's first line of defense, called the acid mantle. The acid mantle is comprised of natural secretions like sweat and sebum, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and lactic acids that protect against harmful bacteria (including the p. acnes bacteria that is responsible for acne), moisture loss, viruses and contaminants, all of which are alkaline in nature and so are neutralized by the natural acidity of the skin.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aquafina Hydrating Facial Spray - Two Best-sellers in One

About two years ago, I was out at a local WalMart picking up some household essentials and, of course, ventured into the makeup/skin care section to see what goodies I could find. In a random sale bin, I spotted a bottle of Aquafina Hydrating Facial Spray and thought, "Whatwhatwhat?!?!?" (I get excited easily). I had used Evian's Mineral Water Spray before, but hadn't heard of other drinking water companies dabbling in skin care. The bottle of Aquafina was marked down to $2.50, so I tossed it in my cart, figuring I had nothing to lose. I am SO glad I did! This is now a staple of my kit and of my daily routine, and has been since the first time I used it. This affordable wonder-product combines the best of two industry favorite facial mists in one, and is a superior version of both!
What industry faves am I about to dupe? Evian's Mineral Water Spray and MAC's Fix +. Here's a quick rundown of both:
Product Description: This is a cooling hydrating mist comprised simply of Evian mineral water that is propelled by nitrogen for a cooling, soothing effect. It's great for refreshing the skin throughout the day, and for adding hydration before applying skin care or makeup. It comes in a metal cylinder and sprays in a fine, cool mist. It is available in a 5 oz size for $10, and in a 1.7 oz size for $6 (both at
The simple ingredient list means it won't irritate even the most sensitive skins, but because it's just water, it can dehydrate the skin once it evaporates.
MAC Fix +
Product Description: A hydrating, vitamin and mineral infused spritz that calms the skin with green tea, chamomile, and cucumber, with a light refreshing scent. It is also great for hydrating the skin and setting/refreshing makeup, and is ideal for spritzing on brushes before any loose pigment application to increase pigmentation and allow the makeup to adhere to the skin. It is available in a 3.4 oz size for $19.
Ingredients: Water, glycerin, butylene glycol, Cucumis Sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf extract, tocopheryl acetate, caffeine, panthenol, arginine, ethylhexylglycerin, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, Ppg-26-Buteth-26, fragrance, disodium Edta, dehydroacetic acid, phenoxyethanol, benzoic acid
Fix + has a lot more going on than the Evian - it contains humectants and soothing vitamins and botanicals, but it also contains potential irritants like fragrance and preservatives. The scent isn't overpowering though, and it does feel refreshing on the skin when used sparingly. If too much is used, it can leave a kind of sticky residue from the high level of glycerin.

And now for the dupe. Prepare to meet your new best friend:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Boots Organics Review

My skin has been the definition of bipolar lately. One second, it's happy and glowing with not a blemish in site, and the next it's dry and flaky, covered in blackheads and blemishes. Argh!! I was experiencing the latter while in my local Target the other day, perusing the skin care aisles for a miracle product to save my face when I landed on the Boots Organics line. I couldn't argue with the price point (all under $15!) and after a quick review of the ingredients in the Organic Hydrating Face Cream, I tossed a jar in my cart along with a tube of the face scrub, body wash and body cream from the same line. One week later, I am in LOVE!

The Organic Hydrating Face Cream has saved my life... ok, maybe not my life, but at least my face! I used it the same night I got it and woke up to visibly calmer, smoother skin. Not wanting to get too excited over the immediate results, I stuck with it for the next few days and nights, and my skin has continued to get better. I've even noticed a reduction in blackheads!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Makeup Mistake: Obvious Under Eye Concealer

Under eye concealer can be your best friend to wake up tired eyes and brighten dark circles. But, as shown in these celeb photos, if not applied properly it can look odd and unnatural, drawing unwanted attention to the under eye area. These glowing white half-moons look worse than the dark circles they're covering!

Flash photography makes the situation even worse. Many under eye concealers contain light-reflective pigments that brighten and reduce the look of dark circles, lines and wrinkles. These look great in natural daylight, but turn bright white under harsh flash photography. To avoid having your own set of reverse-raccoon peepers, use these tips: