Sephora Haul – Softer Makeup Look

As a treat to myself, I got a makeover at Sephora.  I had gotten in a rut with my makeup, relying on bright lips and winged liquid eyeliner to carry me through everyday.  I needed a softer and more sophisticated look that was appropriate in an office setting.  My makeup artist Dina recommended some fabulous products and tips to accompany them.

Here’s what I got, seriously a kid in a candy store.

Sephora Haul



  • Smashbox Double Exposure Eyeshadow Kit
    • Can be used wet or dry
    • Has a range of colors, not just traditional neutrals
  • Smashbox Blush in Chiffon
    • Soft pink shade with flecks of gold
  • Bite Butter Cream Lipstick in Heather
    • Creamy consistency
    • Try pairing this Makeup Forever lip liner in shade 14C
  • Cover FX Contour Kit in Light
    • All the shades you’ll possibly need for contouring
    • Cream contour kit as opposed to shadow
  • Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Taupe
    • Mix the two shades for a more natural look
    • Use the darker shader on the outer corners and the lighter shade on the inner

Winter Skincare Must Haves

This winter, temperatures dropped below zero and it flurried practically every other day.  Texting while outdoors became unnecessarily painful.  Even the slightest exposure to the elements left my fingertips frozen, immobile, and dry.  Wind tunnels continuously knocked the hood off of my head and blasted my face with moisture sucking coldness.  My skin had never been more dry and aggravated.  Here’s the arsenal of supplies I used to combat dull winter skin.

winter skin savers

1.  Dehydration makes your skin drier, so make sure to drink at least 64 oz of water.  Healthy looking skin, begins with H2O.

2.  Olay Regenerist Night Recovery Cream came from the heavens.  My regular moisturizer wasn’t cutting it.  My skin was breaking out because it lacked hydration.  I immediately saw and felt a difference after one use.  I could open my mouth without my whole face cracking!

3.  Use Vaseline anywhere.  Use it as a moisturizer, a lip balm, etc.  Before bed, put vaseline all over your feet and cover with a pair of socks.  Wake up in the morning to softened tootsies.

4.  Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Youth Activating Oil sinks into the skin quickly without making your face look greasy.

5.  Banish flaky lips with a lip exfoliator like this one by Elf.

6.  Unlike other chap sticks, ChapStick Total Hydration 3 in 1 created a shield from the elements and worked to replenish moisture.  I didn’t need to keep applying lip balm every 3 minutes.

7.  Don’t risk exposing your digits to the harsh winter elements to text your BFF.  Use texting gloves to protect those hands when outdoors.  The grips on the fingertips work perfectly on a touchscreen.

8.  Jergens lotion will leave your skin feeling hydrated for a full 24 hours.  Put it on as soon as you get out of the shower.

9.  Humidifiers put more moisture in the air replenishing what heating systems sucked out.

10.  Smother your body in baby oil.  It absorbs quickly and dramatically softens the skin.

winter polaroid

50 Shades of Hair

50 shades of hair

For the last decade and a half I experimented with hair color.  One day, my hair was sunshine yellow, the next day it looked like a liter of motor oil was dumped on my head.  I changed my hair color almost as often as I changed my sheets.  I’d attempt to dye it myself out of a box, hate it, and get it professionally done a week later.  I’d wear wigs, chalk it, and even “spray paint” it.  I’ve been bleach blonde, black, maroon, caramel, ombre, orange, etc.  Here’s what I learned about each color given my features.

Black Hair was just a disaster.  I dyed my hair black when I studied abroad in Australia.  I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a hairdresser there, nor was I employed so I had no income to fund my hair whims.  I did it myself with a box of dye.  I also ended up dying my forehead dark for a week.  I wasn’t a fan of this look.  It washed my pale face out.   I was constantly pounding on the bronzer just to look alive. The only benefit was my hair always looked healthy (even though it wasn’t).

Burgundy Hair – I don’t know what I was thinking with this one.  It didn’t suit my personality.  Again this was a box job. The dye adhered to my head in a blotchy fashion.  Some spots were redder than others.  Also, the red never really left my hair.  There was always a tinge of red after, even when I dyed it blonde.

Bleach Blonde Hair – At the time, this was my favorite look.  But after maturing a little, I realized my hair looked trashy.  It’s bright and over processed.  It just appears fake (well… it is).  It was also expensive and time consuming to disguise those dark roots.

Ombre – I don’t care if ombre is in, or if it’s out… it is the best hair option.  You get to be multiple colors and don’t have to worry about roots growing out, because it’s supposed to look that way!

Blue – Don’t worry, that one is a wig!  But if Katy Perry can rock blue hair, so can you?!  Be warned though that people will look at you funny.  If you have enough confidence to rock the blue, by all means go for it!  While it’s completely unnatural, it does complement certain features.  However, I will leave the blue hair for Halloween.

Red – Don’t worry about this either.  It’s a can of colored hairspray.  Although, I do think I could pull off red.  There’s something intriguing and sexy about it.  After dying my hair burgundy and dealing with a tinge of red for a couple of years, I think the colored hairspray is the proper route.

Everytime I get my hair done, it’s a different color.  I also flip flop so much that it’s a process to get it back blonde.  That process brings me to 50 shades of blonde, hence the majority of photos above.

What You Need to Know About Beauty Boxes

Who doesn’t want a new present delivered to their door monthly?  For a low fee, companies like Birchbox and Ipsy will fulfill these wishes.  While it sounds ideal, there are mixed reviews from actual subscribers.  Plus, there’s enough choices out there to make your head spin.

In full disclosure, I’ve never subscribed to any of these services, but am seriously considering it.  But, I can’t make a decision of this stature (#dramatic) without consulting friends and doing research.  I HAVE gifted it before though.  It’s the best cop out gift.  You know the fall back when you don’t know what to get your friends or coworkers.  It sure beats the typical go-to presents like Bath and Body Works lotions or bottles of wine.  Well the latter is arguable.  Anyway…

Mommy Splurge is the best resource I’ve found to help you navigate the insanely stupid amount of offerings out there.  It breaks these offerings down by category like beauty, DIY, fitness, food, etc.  Then there’s brief summaries of what you’ll get with a subscription and a myriad of reviews.  For this post’s sake, we’re taking about beauty boxes!!

To summarize, here’s the basics of the most popular monthly subscription services.

beauty box

BIRCHBOX ($10/month)

Birchbox is obviously one of the more popular beauty subscriptions.  In the beginning, you’ll fill out a survey.  Then they’ll send you 5 samples or full sized products each month that supposedly fit your needs and wishes.

Here’s what my friends are saying about Birchbox:

“It’s just alright … I’m not loving it as much as I should… I feel like I wish it was a bit more customized”

“I had Birchbox and canceled after 3 months. I was getting too many samples I didn’t know what to do with them and most of them I never used or wanted to use.”

“I have had a Birchbox subscription for prob a year.  I’m obsessed with it”

The overall consensus about Birchbox is that it’s fun for a little.  It certainly makes a decent gift.  However, the samples aren’t always tailored appropriately.  Everyone I know who subscribed has received a red bottle of detangler despite what they said in their survey…

IPSY ($10/month)

Ipsy was founded by famed You Tube beauty vlogger Michelle Phan. You’ll take a quick quiz which helps them determine what goes in your Glam Bag each month.  That’s right, in additions to beauty products,  you’ll get a new makeup bag each month!  Then you can watch product tutorials from their stylists.

“I have Ipsy, I’m so in love with it every month!”

“I cancelled Ipsy-I barely used the products. Had it for 6 months.”

“Ipsy is much better than Birchbox, plus you get a cute makeup bag each month.”

“I used to subscribe to Ipsy. Was charged twice and sent order and shipment confirmations but never received the packages. I had to fight the charges through Amex.”

Based on my friend’s reviews, Ipsy is better than Birchbox. It seems like it’s tailored to each individual better.  However, there are some gripes with the billing process.

JULEP MAVEN ($24.99/month)

Julep started as a nail parlor and has expanded to a cosmetic company.  They don’t use toxins or test on animals.  Each month you are given a limited selection of products to choose from, therefore you customize the box yourself.  You’ll only receive items from the Julep brand though.

If you love nail polish, you’ll likely enjoy Julep Maven.  You’ll get exactly what you wanted delivered to your door each month.  If you’re thinking of giving it as a gift, you don’t have to worry about it auto renewing.  However, those who subscribe on their own beware… the subscription does automatically renew!

BARE BLISS BOX ($16.99/month)

I don’t know anyone who subscribes to Bare Bliss Box, nor have I heard about it before today.  However, I like the spin it has.  Rather than commercial products, it appeals to a niche audience.  I’m sure all of you have a friend or two who only uses organic products or refuses to use products that are tested on animals.  This is the box for them!

There you have it kids.  The verdict is still out about these boxes.  Some people jump for joy you every time they come home to their beauty treats.  Others find it a total waste of $$$

1920s Costume – Dress & Hair

I’ve been to a dozen 1920s themed parties, and reinvent my look each time.  There are certain themes in attire, hair, and makeup that truly define the 1920s.  Here’s your guide to dressing up for a 1920s themed party.

1920s costumes

1920s Clothing

You could buy one of those cheesy costumes from Party City.  I’m guilty of doing that once, but it was unflattering and certainly my least favorite flapper look.

I advise you raid your own wardrobe or a thrift shop instead, look for the following:

  • Black dresses
  • Dresses with gold detail
  • Tiered dresses
  • Dresses with fringe
  • Dresses with scallops at the bottom
  • Dresses with sequins

Basically, you’re looking for ornate dresses or the complete opposite, the LBD which you can spruce up with accessories.

1920s Hair

Look One 

First I curled by hair.  Then,  I twisted the front section back to create a quiff.  I pinned the rest of the hair to one side.  I then placed a headband directly behind the twist.

Look Two

The headband around my head is from Forever 21!  I saw it on the mannequin and had to have it.    When placing the headband around the head, it’s all about positioning.  You want it to start at the top of your forehead and wrap around the top of your hair at a downward angle so the back of the band falls in the middle of your head.

My hair is long and curly in this style.  I know it’s not exactly 1920s, but you still want to look good and feel like yourself!

Look Three

I tried hard to follow the Gatsby inspired finger wave tutorial below.  But as usual, it didn’t come out anything like the picture.  I didn’t have the hair clips required nor the brain capacity to figure out the back  twists.  I’ll do a tutorial on how to achieve my version.  For the most part though, I attempted an s curl with a straightening iron, braided the ends, then tucked them under.

For the hair piece, I used a broken necklace.  I secured it to one side of my head with bobby pins.

1920s Hair Tutorials

I curated the below 1920s hair tutorials to get you started on achieving your own Gatsby party look!


1.  Gatsby Inspired Finger Waves

2.  Gatsby Curls Updo

3.  Rolled Updo Tutorial

You’re all going to look like a total Betty at your 1920s themed party.

Ombre Hair

It’s expensive being a girl, especially when hair salons don’t give you what you ask for.    So I’ll spare you the expense.  I mess up, do you don’t have to!!

Ombre Hair


I’m a natural brunette, although I try to fight it by consistently adding blonde highlights. I’d hit the salon every 2 months for a refresh… High maintenance!  Ombre highlights are the best of both worlds.  I can still be “blonde” without having to worry about roots.  I also save money from having to get it done less often too #winning


In the before picture, I asked for Lauren Conrad ombre, where it is brighter at the bottoms and in the front.  The request was a drastic change from my basic highlights so I made an appointment at a high end salon in New York City.   I should have ran out of that door when I saw a grown woman crying over her hair.  None the less I stuck it out.  The stylist hand painted bleach on my entire head.  I only wanted the ends brightened, but I let her do her magic.  As I sat there with my scalp burning I began to have more doubts.  When she removed the product, my whole head was practically white.  I asked her how the ombre fit into this.  She replied, don’t worry.  She then had her assistant apply something to the root of my hair, drag it down about 1/8th of the way and dye it brown.  While I liked the brighter bottoms (they were exactly what I wanted) the ombre effect was just plain awful.  I paid $300 + tip (excluding a haircut) to have roots!

The hair looked fine for a week.  But as it began to grow out the dark roots took control.  Then the ends of the hair became extremely damaged from the bleach.  They were fried and looked scraggily at the bottom.  My hair had really thinned out and my split ends were out of control.  I had to dump oil on it just to make them look remotely normal.  As it continued to grow, it looked trashier and ratchet, even with a haircut.  A quick trip to the beach and it was evident my hair needed some sprucing up.


  • Don’t let a stylist bleach your entire head
  • Run when someone is crying in a salon
  • Get a haircut when you dye your hair
  • Just because it costs more, doesn’t mean it’s better
  • If you have dark hair, bleach blonde is not the route to go
  • Question your stylist about the process and make sure she truly comprehends your expectations

Less than two months later I got my hair done in Astoria New York, it was far more affordable and I was much happier with the results.  Again, I showed the stylist the same picture.  Since my hair was already bleached, bright and damaged at the bottom she left that alone and worked with the rest of the hair. Here’s what should happen when someone does that correctly.

  • The stylist will tease your hair.  This allows the root color to remain intact and creates a more natural looking effect
  • There should be gradual shifts in color, not a straight line across your hair
  • Leave your root color alone so it grows out without harsh lines
  • You should see several different colors in your hair

I’m looking forward to months of low maintenance hair!  The stylist said this will bring me through the summer, and I believe her.

PS  both of these pictures were taken on Day 1 of getting my hair done.  I just happened to wear the same shirt. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t as great in the before picture, so it doesn’t do its harshness justice.

PPS Here’s the Lauren Conrad picture I showed.  It doesn’t look exactly like LC, because my natural color is darker than hers.  Also, it’s likely that the bleached out portions at the bottom are extensions.

lauren conrad ombre

How to Take the Perfect Selfie

Everywhere you look there are people snapping photos of themselves.  Somehow, they know the perfect angle to tilt their head and hold their camera.  They look like perfection on their Instagram and you can  too!

I have a private Facebook album consisting of 700 selfies.  When my friends and I beautify for a big night out, it’s documented with a selfie session beforehand.  I perfected the selfie.  Now I bestow my findings to you.

Tips for the Perfect Selfie

Do’s and Don’ts of Taking the Perfect Selfie:

botchHolding the camera below your face:  “Delete that, it looks like I just ate an elephant and it went straight to my chin.”

Taking a selfie in the dark:  “Is that me? I look like an alien.”

Turning the whole face towards the camera:  “My face looks wider than the Great Wall of China.”

Looking at yourself in the camera:  “Wait, where am I supposed to look?”

Getting your arm in the picture:  “I’m trying to highlight my best feature (face), not my worst (arms).”

Making duck lips and kiss faces: “I can’t possibly look more self absorbed right now.”

Taking a selfie by photographing the mirror: “Look at that guy on OKCupid! He’s taking a picture in the mirror… next.”

learnHold the camera above eye level:  Hold the camera above eye level and pointed slightly down.  This will make you appear thinner.  Be careful though, angling the camera down too much will make your forehead appear huge.

Face the source of light:  If there’s a window, face it! Keep the lighting source in front of you. Better lighting = better quality photos.

Turn your head at an angle:  Know your good side.  Tilt your head down slightly and don’t turn your head more than 30 degrees in either direction.  Doing this will highlight your cheekbones and prevent pig nose or flat nose.

Take the photo with one arm: Many people use two arms to stabilize the camera and click the button.  To avoid it appearing in the photo, use the same arm to take the picture and click the button.  The volume button on the iPhone will take a picture.  There’s also  the selfie stick and selfie remote!  If you must use two arms, hold them out wide.

Smiles and Cuteness:  Taking a selfie doesn’t need to be 100% classless.  Go ahead and smile or make a goofy face.  But definitely avoid the duck and kiss face.

Level II Selfies:

The greatest part of taking a selfie is being able to see yourself before the picture is captured.  If you take enough selfies, you’ll be a pro.  Eventually, you won’t need to look at yourself and you can use the back camera on your phone which takes higher quality photos.

Clubs and bars are one of the hardest places to take a selfie because of the dim lighting.  If you’re taking a selfie there, use the back camera which has a flash.

Selfie of a selfie

Taking a selfie is like doing your own makeup instead of makeup artist.  Sometimes you can make yourself look better than someone else can.  Go ahead, be your own photographer and show the world how kick ass your life is.

8 Gym Bag Essentials to Help You Skip the Shower

How many times have you skipped the gym because you didn’t have time to shower? Let’s turn that on its head; skip the shower and go to the gym!  Here are 8 gym bag essentials to go from gym to office in minutes.  Hello lunchtime workout!
gym bag essentials


  1. Hair Brush – this doesn’t need much of an explanation.  Brush your hair out after a workout!
  2. Perfume – Smell  fresh as a daisy after spritzing yourself with your favorite perfume.
  3. BB Cream – It will hydrate your face and provide sheer coverage to even out your skin tones.  No need to carry around a moisturizer and foundation.
  4. Mascara – If you don’t have time to do a full face, mascara will give you a more put together look.
  5. Headband – After brushing your hair and spraying it with dry shampoo put it back in a headband.  This will eliminate fly aways and distract from “greasy” hair.
  6. Cleaning Towelettes – Use these to clean your face before and after a workout.  After wiping your face, use it to wipe your back and chest and other sweat prone areas.
  7. Body Clear Body Spray – Spritz this on your back and chest after a workout to kill bacteria and eliminate the chance of backne.
  8. Dry Shampoo – After drying the damp areas of your hair with a hairdryer, spritz your roots with a dry shampoo and brush through.

Anddddd…. the socks don’t have a number… whoops.  Make sure you bring an extra pair of socks to change into after a workout.  This is crucial to not being the smelly kid!!!!!

If you’re still cringing saying you can’t skip the shower, body wash quickly and skip washing your hair.

Bright Lips & Bold Brows

Bright lipstick and bold brows go together like beaches and bikinis.  This is a look that celebrities like Cara Delevingne, Rita Ora, and Olivia Munn rock often.  Wear it with your hair down, or throw it up for an instantly polished look.


The secret to fabulous eyebrows is using a spoolie brush then filling them in.  First, brush your eyebrows with the spoolie in the direction the brow hairs are growing.

Rather than a pencil, try Tarte’s brow mousse.  You can do no wrong with any Tarte product.  It will give you more control and blends well with the brows.  Line the top of the brow using an angled brush.  Make sure to define the arch, you might need to create it with the product if your eyebrows are straight.  Then do the same to the bottom of the brows.  After you’ve defined the shape, go in and fill in any skimpy areas with light tiny brush strokes.  Once you’re done, brush the brows again to blend and remove excess mousse with a tissue.

Bright Lipstick

Start by exfoliating your lips.  Nothing draws attention to flaky lips like bright and red lipstick.  Next step, moisturize those chaps. Prime your lips or line them.  Brights and reds tend to run so this will prevent feathering.  Finally fill in your lips with the lipstick paying extra attention to the sides of the lips.  You’re now ready to blot and go.

Products Used:

  • Tarte Brow Mousse in Taupe
  • Maybelline Lipstick in Faint for Fuschia

Presence of Pretty: Who Picks Up the Check on a Date?

The most awkward part of dating is when the check comes.  What do you do?  I’ve received countless opinions and advice on the subject.  Let the bill sit on the table, don’t acknowledge the check’s presence, reach for your wallet, insist on paying,  just let him pay and pick up the next check (a smaller one of course), you shouldn’t pay until the fourth date, if he lets you pay then he’s not into you, he asked you out. Everybody chimes in with something.  I see the logic in all of it.  However, I always offer and insist on picking up the next round.  In my mind, it relinquishes the feeling of  “owing him something” and the guilt if I don’t want to go on a second date.  Plus I’m a bit of a feminist so I’m all about the independent woman.  But, this opinion all changed yesterday when a friend raised a new point.

Boys are paying to be in the presence of pretty.  They didn’t have to put on $48 foundation, a $100 dress, $30 mascara, $27 dollar lipstick, etc. etc.  Us ladies invest in ourselves everyday.  A boy should be so lucky to enjoy our presence.  Plus my motto is “time is money.”  So next time when the bill comes, I’m making a half hearted attempt at paying and dropping it if he refuses.  Then I’ll remind myself that’s the price for the presence of pretty.

What should a girl do when the check comes at the end of the date?

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