Friday, November 3, 2017

Hearth & Hand with Magnolia: Top Selections from Chip and Joanna Gaines' New Collection for Target

Hearth and Hand with Magnolia Target Picks Fall 2017 Launch




I'm late to the Fixer Upper craze. I don't watch very much HGTV, so it wasn't until very recently that I started to binge the show. I kept hearing the name Joanna Gaines all over sites like Pinterest and among my friends who are into home decor. I finally figured out what all the buzz was about and now, I get it. My mind is a bit blown by the fact that it took me so long to jump on this bandwagon. I've always been thrifty and appreciated the art of turning something old and unwanted into something new to be cherished. A lifelong thrifter (I inherited the genes from my parents), over the years I have developed a keen eye for quality craftsmanship. You couldn't pay me to live in a McMansion. While my style isn't a mirror image to Chip and Joanna's preferred, modern farmhouse aesthetic (I'm much more of a traditional eclectic), I can definitely appreciate a ton of what this design power couple has to offer.

Enter their newest collection with retail giant, Target. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia is everything you'd expect from Chip and Joanna Gaines: simplistic pottery, preppy plaids and galvanization galore. It's the quintessential array of products that will easily add a dash of down-home charm to your place. Best of all? The products are all very well-made and affordable. For fans of Fixer Upper and the Magnolia brand made famous by Chip and Joanna Gaines, this new collection for Target is sure to impress. Launch date is set for November 5th. While this is a permanent range, these items are sure to sell-out fast and you never know if or how quickly items will be restocked. Here are a few of the items from the collection that I thought stood out to me the most:



Galvanized Container 25 oz Candle 

While I absolutely adore the ambiance that only a candle can provide, when it comes to a jar of wax, I have a difficult time spending more than about $10. One way that I justify spending money on candles is knowing that I can repurpose the container. I have used the jars for holding everything from straws on a bar cart to pens on a desk or makeup brushes on a vanity. If the packaging is cute, the price of the candle is suddenly okay in my book. This galvanized container would be adorable for holiday crafting!



Galvanized Charger with Gold Welding

I love a good charger. I adore anything with a gold accent. These would be spectacular for Christmas dinner. I'm picturing a warm and cozy cabin in the mountains. The fireplace is crackling and the conversation around the table is engaging. I don't have a country house to display these beauties but it's fun to pretend, right?



Stoneware Pitcher

For some reason, black stoneware isn't easily found. This pitcher really sparked my fancy because not only is it black but it's the perfect shade and finish of black (yep, I'm crazy). I also like the contrasting trim on the bottom of the vessel.



Galvanized House Lanterns

Lanterns are definitely in my wheelhouse. I have been a fan for years. These adorable galvanized "houses" would be stunning indoors or on a patio. I envision these filled with candles, Christmas garland, twinkle lights, ornaments...the options are endless.



X-Patterned Glassware Goblet

I get my love of glassware from my Mom who has collected Depression glass since I was a little girl. I have amassed my own collection of beautiful drinkware. This particular design isn't exquisitely crafted like true antiques but the shade of green is dynamite for Christmas or even a St. Patrick's Day tablescape.



Moravian Star Tree Topper

I will forever be grateful to this collection for reminding me of the name of this design! I have been a fan of the MORAVIAN Star (use it in a sentence today!) for many years. Anytime I see an episode of Friends, I find myself lusting after the light fixture in the hallway of Monica's apartment. I have seen similar styles but never remember what to call the actual design. This galvanized Christmas tree topper would pair wonderfully with so many other items in the Hearth & Hand holiday collection. So rustic. So chic.



Stoneware Serving Platter and Plates

This is hands down, my favorite piece in the entire collection! I will absolutely be adding these plates to my shopping cart. Rae Dunn vibes for sure (not exactly cool to blatantly rip off another designer) but these beauties are everything.



Lidded Jar Container 8 oz Candle

Here we have another product that feels familiar. The poor man's Le Labo candle? Don't mind if I do.



Women's Pajama Union Suit Green Plaid

I love green and blue plaids. It takes me back to my optimistic childhood when as a young Irish girl, I thought that someday I'd go to Notre Dame (for the record, I never applied). My Mom always dressed me in these colors to complement my red hair and green eyes. Not only is this pajama absolutely adorable and festive, but it also comes in sizes for everyone in the family.



Round Acacia Wood Cutting Board

There's nothing particularly unique about this design but everyone needs a good wood cutting board. They make excellent hostess gifts (put a bow on it and pair it with some wine and cheese). I also like to use mine for serving appetizers, as a cheese board, or for layering home decor vignettes.



Round Wood and Wire Tray

I have a mild-severe obsession with trays (and boxes while we're on the subject). I adore using them for any and all purposes: displaying perfume, booze, seasonal accents, makeup, bath and body products, candles...the list goes on and on. I am not a minimalist. I have a lot of stuff that I've hoarded collected over the years. Trays are a stylish way to wrangle all of my found objects into a "safe space" in my home. Anything that can diminish being overwhelmed and help you stay organized is always good to have around.


Happy Shopping!










Now Playing: "Won't You Be My Neighbor" by Rachel Lynne
(Yinzplosion! That's a Pittsburgh artist covering the late, great Mister Rogers)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hocus Pocus Figural Key Chain Blind Bag Opening



Anyone who knows me understands my obsession with the movie Hocus Pocus. I also enjoy a little bit of a surprising thrill every now and then, so this blind bag had my name written all over it. For some reason, the video didn't convert properly to HD and the audio isn't fantastic but it gets the point across. Enjoy and please subscribe to my YouTube channel for future videos. 

Where to buy your own Hocus Pocus key chain:  http://go.magik.ly/ml/7ggj/













Now Playing: "Havana Vieja" by Susto

Friday, October 27, 2017

Halloween Decor Shopping - Come Along!



Shopping for fall and Halloween decor is one of the things I look forward to most about this time of year! I spent a couple days traipsing around a few of my favorite haunts looking for new treasures to add to my collection. I had never been inside a Kirkland's store before but was impressed with quite a few of their seasonal selections including a stunning black and white 'Boo' pillar set. The shopping in Pittsburgh seems to be improving every year and it's getting overwhelming with all of the wonderful choices. I still appreciate my thrifted finds and upcycled crafts more than anything you could discover being mass-produced on the market today, but I can never resist a gorgeous velvet pumpkin, charming throw pillow or adorable country primitive black cat. Enjoy and please subscribe to my YouTube channel!














Now Playing: "Spooky" by Dusty Springfield

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Makeup No Buy Update: April/May Temptations


MayTemptations




Please overlook my lack of makeup updates as my mind has been preoccupied with hockey (Let's Go Pens! Back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions!). April was a complete and utter disaster in terms of sticking to my no-buy. I expected this to be one of the most challenging months of the year due to the Sephora spring sale along with 50% off through my freelancing. The good news? May was the easiest month so far. I cleared out my collection and gave my little cousin who is in high school a massive bag of perfectly good products that weren't getting the attention it deserved. It felt wonderful to narrow down my stash. I can honestly say that everything I currently have is something that I cherish and will make the effort to put into regular rotation. I still have a huge collection but it is much more pared down. I wouldn't exactly say it's well-edited but it's a fair downsize for a maximalist such as myself.

I am at the place in my collecting years where few products are tempting me. There really isn't much that strikes my fancy. In order for me to be attracted to something, it truly has to be unique or new to the market. Here are a few of the items that recently managed to catch my eye:


Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Treatment Lotion Mist, $22

This is technically a skincare product but with the heat and humidity finally swinging into my area, I'm all for spritzes of hydration. I love a good mist and think this is a nice one for prepping your makeup application. It's especially good for those who have to be up and out the door early.

Dose of Colors Baked Browns Eyeshadow Palette, $32

I don't own anything from this brand (I would be content in never buying another liquid lipstick, something it's known for, ever again) but this palette struck me as very well put together. The colors are definitely my type but therein lies the problem. I probably have several dupes already within my collection. I have yet to buy any eyeshadow palettes in 2017 and it's looking like that trend might make it all the way through the end of the year. I simply do not need anymore eyeshadow...especially warm tones. It's all I have. Drawers of browns, nudes and sepias. Enough is enough.

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, $15

For the past few seasons, this has been the bronzer that everyone and their next-door neighbor hasn't stopped talking about. Physicians Formula is one of my favorite drugstore brands and I love the few bronzers I already have from them. I'm not sure that this one will be all that different but it has been on my list long enough. I'll probably add it to my collection sometime in the next year or so when I see it on sale. Physicians Formula produces good quality powders but it is rather expensive for the drugstore.

Etude House Glitter Pigment Eyeshadow, $10

I'm not really a glitter eyeshadow type of gal these days but it's nice to have a couple options for victory parades and celebratory things of that nature. You never know when a party or costume might call for a dash of sparkle. The packaging of this one was too cute to miss. It sold out before temptation got the best of me. If I make an order from Etude House before the close of the year and this item is still available, consider it snatched.

Gucci Nude Freesia Sheer Blushing Powder, $49

I adore the Gucci products that I have...extremely good quality and incredibly beautiful packaging. Unfortunately, the blush that I picked out online a few years ago, is way too deep for my complexion. A $50 blush is a commitment. If I can find someone to sell my original blush to, I might justify replacing it with a more neutral shade like this easy-to-wear color from their newest collection.

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey Glam, $26

The Clarins lip oils are among my favorite products in my entire collection. I have all of the shades with the exception of a couple. I intend to add Honey Glam and Tangerine into my collection before the end of the year.



Items I recently 'shopped from my own stash':


MayShopStash



Lancome Belle de Teint Bronzer in 01, $45

I was on the fence about purchasing this beauty but I'm so glad that I did. It's a gorgeous little palette that creates a very natural bronzed glow. The powder trio is very flattering on fair skin and the packaging is a delight to use.

MAC Eyeshadow, $16-$32

My MAC eyeshadows are some of the oldest products in my collection. Powders never go bad if they're kept sealed and in proper storage areas. I began adding MAC single and holiday eyeshadows to my collection long before the notion of palettes grew in popularity. It requires a bit more forethought to pair singles together but the quality of the shadows have definitely held up and stood the test of time.

Sephora Collection Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation$28

I've wanted to use the Dior Airflash foundation for years but the lightest color is still a few shades too deep for my fair skin. Dior's version is far more expensive so I was thrilled to see that there was finally an affordable alternative on the market (and with a much wider color range!). Believe it or not, the lightest shade in the launch, the one that I purchased (Cream), might actually be a bit too light for me. That never happens! PS: I also recommend Sephora's mist blush.

NARS Highlighter in Albatross$30

This is one of the first highlighters I ever purchased. It's a bit loud and in your face but it sure is a beauty.

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Setting Powder, $35

I was happy to finish a couple deluxe sample compacts of this. I have dry skin but this is excellent for setting the under eyes or anywhere that might produce a bit of  shine in the heat and humidity. When my samples run out, I will definitely be purchasing the full size. Luckily for my wallet, a little goes a long way.











Now Playing: "Huntress" by Sväva

Monday, May 22, 2017

Music Monday: Chromatics


There's a lot to appreciate when it comes to the luscious sounds of Chromatics but what I like the most is what I simply classify as 'vibes'; a severely overused word but aptly concise. The energy that this music exudes is exactly what I look for when I'm lounging around the house or in the mood to kick back and decompress.

Chromatics is an electronic group from Portland. Their latest release is available now and can be purchased here.


Shadow



Cherry

Into the Black (Neil Young Cover)

I'm on Fire (Bruce Springsteen Cover)











Monday, April 24, 2017

Music Monday: Bonobo



I don't recall the first time I ever heard Bonobo's music but it's one of those instances when you're just grateful that it happened. Perhaps the aha moment came after watching the sweeping music video for Break Apart (featuring one of my favorite artists, Rhye). I was also blown away and officially hooked while watching Bonobo's live stream from Coachella.

Bonobo is Simon Green, a British musician, producer and DJ who is now based in Los Angeles. He has that ethereal ability to teleport your soul to another dimension. His latest album, Migration, was released earlier this year and can be purchased here.


Break Apart ft. Rhye




Second Sun

Surface ft. Nicole Miglis

No Reason ft. Nick Murphy









Thursday, April 6, 2017

2017 Makeup No Buy Update: March Temptations

March Temptations



March was a so-so month in terms of my willpower. I slipped a few times when sale prices were too good to pass up. Overall, I did fairly well. I know April will be a challenge with a few more major sales and Easter bonuses set to kick off but I'm taking it one day at a time.



Jouer Long-Wear Lip Topper in Skinny Dip, $16

I've seen this cult-favorite product for ages on Pinterest and finally decided to try it out when I saw it on Forever 21's website. It's an interesting formula and satisfied my curiosity.


Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Illuminating Powder Highlighter in Heat Wave, $45

When this product originally launched a few years back, it was all the rage. I remember purchasing it and actually returning it (something I rarely, if ever, do with cosmetics). But the packaging this time around was too much to resist. I also snagged it during bonus time.


Guerlain Summer 2017 Terracotta Sun Trio Bronzer (Limited Edition), $56

I've been wanting to add a Guerlain bronzer to my collection for eons. I saw this new one advertised on Chic Profile. It looks like a wonderful blend for lighter complexions.


Bobbi Brown Art Stick Liquid Lip in Honey Bare, $28

I am a huge fan of the original art stick and was curious to try this formula. The color wasn't exactly what I had hoped but I am interested in playing around with the full range of colors in person later this month.


Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow, $24

I think I might order one of these for the upcoming Sephora VIB sale. It looks like an impressive sparkle formula that is perfect for adding a touch of pizzazz to an evening eye look.


Too Faced Highlighter in You Light Up My Life, $30

If it's a heart-shaped product and from Too Faced, I can't help myself. I adore the blushes that are in similar packaging and knew as soon as this product was released that one would make its way into my highlighter drawer. It's not the best formula in the world but that Polly Pocket style packaging makes me happy.




Items I 'shopped from my own stash' this month:


MarchShopStash




Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, $23

I've gone through more tubes of this than I can count. I'd rather not spend money on higher-end mascaras because of its limited shelf-life, but this mascara is worth every penny.


Viseart Eyeshadow Palette in 01 Neutral Matte, $80

If I could only keep one eyeshadow palette, this would be it. Throw in a few ColourPop singles to add shine to the lids and I would be satisfied. It's pricey so I try to get as much use out of it as I can. The superior quality is definitely noticeable.


theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer, $24

I've been a major fan of highlighters since I started to wear makeup in the late 90s...long before it became the trend it is today. While I have grown to prefer a subtle highlight, this cult favorite packs a pretty good punch. I always receive compliments when I wear it. A flattering shade for those with fair-light complexions.


Maybelline Expert Wear Eyebrow Pencils (Medium Brown), $4

Despite having an array of high-end brow products, this drug store cheap thrill has been a staple in my collection for decades. It performs just as well as my luxury products. The Medium Brown shade is ideal for red or auburn hair. Only a few dollars and easy to find. You can't beat this classic.


Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation, $47

I hate the feeling of heavy makeup. I love cushions because they have the weight of tinted moisturizer but the coverage of a light foundation. This has been the best color match (010) and formula I have tried. I have gone through a couple compacts which speaks volumes. As much as I love makeup, I don't wear it every day. You simply do not get a lot of product from this...at all. And what little liquid you do get is heavily absorbed by the sponges. When you factor in the price per ounce, that makes this one of the most expensive foundations on the market. What a sin! If you're able to find this on sale, stock up (I got mine last summer for 50% off).


Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Illuminating Powder (in Nude), $52

I've been wanting to try this in the Porcelain shade as a finishing powder but I have enough that I really love from brands like Hourglass, YSL and Guerlain. Instead, I have been enjoying the Nude shade to add warmth after foundation. I consider it a magical combination of ultra light bronzer, highlighter, contour, and finishing powder all in one radiant finish.














Now Playing: "Can't Sleep" by Above & Beyond

Monday, March 20, 2017

Music Monday: Nick Hakim



Nick Hakim is a Brooklyn-based musician originally from Washington, DC. He is currently on tour and his debut full-length album Green Twins is due out in May. 



The Green Twins (Live in London)





Cold
Bet She Looks Like You
The Light










Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Go Deep: 20th Anniversary of The Phoenix Lights



Those who know me well understand that I have a fascination with all things paranormal or unexplained. The story of the Phoenix lights is particularly interesting to me. On this, the 20th anniversary of the mass UFO sighting, I share with you a well-executed documentary that has always stuck with me.














Now Playing: "Senior Living" by Röyksopp

Monday, March 6, 2017

2017 Makeup No Buy Update: February Temptations

February Temptations



 So, February was a bit of a disaster for my no-buy. I had a feeling it would be one of the most challenging months of the year for me. My birthday was on the 1st, I still had gift cards leftover from Christmas, I always treat myself to something on Valentine's Day, tax returns, new releases, the list goes on... Lots of good excuses. Some valid reasons.

 I was proud of my flawless track record in January and that has inspired me to continue on in March. For Lent, I'm attempting to not shop for anything. I've already slipped once but you'll see in the product descriptions below for my February temptations why that might be.



Dior Addict Lip Glow in Berry, $33

I have this lippie in a couple other shades. I reach for the lighter color most often. I thought this berry (which in actuality is closer to a bright pink) would be a nice addition to my collection. It's on the list but I might hold off on this one all together.



Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, $54

I have been a major proponent of the Smashbox Primer Water but lately, I've noticed that my blush and highlighter doesn't seem to last very long. I heard so many good things about this primer which doubles as a lip and eye base. I got a sample and was really impressed with the results. The price tag is very steep though. I might put this on my list for the upcoming Sephora VIB sale.



Lancome Rose Blush Highlighter

I was going to pass on this highlighter but the unique packaging and limited edition hype won me over. I ended up using a gift card on it and acquired it while Lancome was in gift (securing a new Aplum blush which was missing out of my collection). The packaging is pretty but it barely fits in my drawer. I haven't reached for it. I see that these HTF beauties are going for quite a pretty penny on ebay. I might have to part with this and do the flip. Spoiler Alert: I may have cheated on my Lenten no-shop to get the Estee Lauder Heatwave Highlighter. I might flip this as well or keep it in place of the Lancome flower concoction.



Chanel Camelia de Chanel Illuminating Powder Highlighter, $70

Another highlighter that grabbed my attention was this limited edition release from Chanel. I have been collecting Chanel highlighters for about 10 years now. The past few seasons didn't include one which was very disappointing. When I saw the red packaging and the golden sheen, I knew I had to procure this into my collection.



Wet N Wild Cushion Highlighter, $6

I love anything with a cushion formulation inside cutesy packaging. This adorable little release from Wet N Wild was very tempting. I passed on it during a Walgreens sale but it was just so adorable!



Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss, $30

The last thing I need is lip gloss but the new Chanel lip gloss formula piqued my interest. I'm glad I held off from ordering any before seeing them in person because I'm not a fan of the new packaging, formula, or color range. I have a ton of Glossimers but never reach for them for similar reasons. Chanel does lipstick incredibly well but they just can't seem to master how to top them off.



Too Faced Peach Oil Lip Gloss in Papa Don't Peach, $19

I had no desire to jump into the peach craze from Too Faced. Enough is enough. But then I smelled this lip gloss. The color and formula is smooth. I love anything with an oil so this is definitely on my list for a future sale.



Clarins 4-Color All-In-One Liner Pen, $30

I have enough liners for 15 women so for me to be tempted by one it has to be really good. At first I thought this clicky pen was just a gimmick but it has a solid construction and decent formula for 4 very wearable shades (black, brown and cobalt blue eyeliner along with a creamy nude lipliner). The packaging reminds me of the pens I loved so dearly when I was in elementary school. I'm a nostalgic type of person who has an affinity for pens and makeup. I also happen to love Clarins so it's no surprise that I caved and bought this during gift.



Sephora Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation, $28

The Dior Airflash foundation is a cult favorite for a reason. I got my sister hooked. It's a very unique product that until recently was not duped. I've always wanted to use it but it's very expensive and the lightest color is still a few shades too deep for me (the pains of being fair-skinned). This alternative from Sephora Collection is a fraction of the price and the color range is far superior. As for the formula, it seems to have potential. I might give it a try in the future. I tend to go for light cushions and BB creams but my skin has been acting up lately and it might be beneficial to have a fuller coverage option in my arsenal.



Etude House Wonder Park Candy Highlighter, $12

I love my Etude House goodies. My best friend is traveling to Korea later this year and you better believe I'm sending her with a list of places she has to go to shop. K-beauty is all the rage and for good reason. This product is more of a color correcting finishing powder than a highlighter. The Etude House spring collection is so charming. I can appreciate anything with a holographic theme park motif as I have so many wonderful memories from growing up with summers spent at Kennywood Park.



Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum, $10

Speaking of Etude House, I have noticed that their lash serum isn't as effective on brows as it is on my lashes. I've been wanting to experiment with a few other affordable alternatives. This one jumped out at me on Pinterest. It's on the drugstore watch list.



Milani Retouch & Erase Lite Lift Concealer, $9

In keeping with the drug store, Milani has been one of my favorites for years. There have been several new releases from Milani (the lip scrub, balm, primers, setting sprays, highlighters) that have tempted me this month! I've stayed strong and didn't cave on any of them but they're definitely taking up residency in the back of my mind.




Items I 'shopped from my own stash' this month:


FebruaryShopStash




Too Faced The Little Black Book of Bronzers

I'm a major book lover so of course when this product was released I snatched it right up. It's very slim but takes up a lot of square footage in my bronzer drawer. I don't always reach for it but I've recently made the effort. I love the lighter shades that are harder to find from other brands. Too Faced knows how to brew a good bronzer. I definitely recommend all of their singles.



Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Alloy, $22

I don't reach for liquid eyeliner very often despite having the full range from Stila. I'm trying to use them more often before they wither away. I wore this particular charcoal shade when I went to see the new 50 Shades sequel. You know you're a junkie when you match your makeup to the movie you're going to see.



MAC Fix +, $24

It took me a long time to finally grasp the best way to use this product. Many people think that it's a setting spray but it's actually for finishing. The difference? It won't prolong the wear of your makeup but it will dilute any powder or cakiness that may have occurred in the 'face beating' process.



Urban Decay Super Saturated High Gloss Lip Color

When these were released a number of years ago, I instantly fell in love with their formula. I was sad to see them discontinued but promptly bought backups and the remaining colors when they went on major clearance. I don't buy backups of products pretty much ever but I do have a few from this range. I think Urban Decay made a major mistake by tossing these from their lineup. Some of my favorite lippies ever made! I'm definitely trying to get as much use out of them as possible.



Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze, $7

I have quite a few of these in my collection but I don't reach for them very often anymore because my ColourPop, Dior, Lancome and Chanel bouncy cream shadows have taken their place. They've dried up a bit but a drop of Inglot Duraline brought them right back to life. If you have a cream shadow, liner or primer that has solidified, I can't recommend this product highly enough. One drop is all you need to magically transform a tough substance into a good-as-new creamy consistency. Bad to the Bronze has always been my favorite shade from the bunch. It was fun to reintroduce it back into the rotation.



Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm in Pink Punch, $4

I've been trying to switch up my lip balms and use as many as possible this winter. I forgot that the Baby Lips aren't just cute but they have some decent coloring. I have several but enjoy this pink shade the most. Very moisturizing.



Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette, $80

This was a pricier item and I want to make sure that I'm not just admiring its gorgeous packaging but actually using it. Hourglass has the best powders in the business. Worth every penny. I love that this palette is essentially a one-stop-shop for the face. If I needed to, I could use this and not have to reach for anything else. Finishing powder, blushes, bronzer, and highlighter all in one convenient, elegant design.



Forever 21 Macaroon Lip Balm

These precious little lippies have been popular for some time. I absolutely love their sweet colors and darling packaging and picked up quite a few from Forever 21 several years ago. I've been trying to get as much use out of them as I can. When the product is gone, they make for charming little pill cases or can be repurposed for other products.












Now Playing: "Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man

Monday, February 13, 2017

Music Monday: Yellow Days



I love the feeling I get when I discover a new artist whose talent is so palpable that it sends electricity coursing through my veins. It doesn't happen very often but this sense of musical euphoria is one of the reasons my ears are always receptive to new music.

When I first discovered Yellow Days, lesser known by his birth name, George van den Broek, the 17-year-old phenom out of England made my heart soar. The power behind this young man's voice evokes a bygone era that neither he nor I were alive to experience. It's raw emotion like this which makes me a music lover. His debut EP, Harmless Melodies, is out now along with a more recent release that can be heard below. 

People

Go Home

Gap in the Clouds

Your Hand Holding Mine
















Sunday, February 12, 2017

Flick Pick: Frank & Lola


I recently bit the bullet and administered an ad-blocking program to my computer. As an avid YouTube watcher, it's one of the best digital decisions I've ever made. But when I'm on my mobile device, I still suffer through those pesky commercials. While most ads are no more than time thieves, when properly executed, they occasionally deliver inspiration and guidance. Enter the promo for Frank & Lola that ran before a vlog I watched from a Wiccan medium who lives in DC (shout-out to Psychic Bob).



Deliciously described as a 'psychosexual noir', Frank & Lola delivers in the form of fast-paced suspense and erotic romance. Viewers are taken inside the scattered lives of characters whose worlds are divided between the bright lights of the two very different cityscapes of Las Vegas and Paris. In his feature debut, writer-director, Matthew Ross, enchants with seedy cinematography that perfectly sets the tone. Fans of similar movies within the genre such as Manhattan Night will enjoy this film as well. 7/10.


Frank & Lola is available for rent or purchase online.











Now Playing: "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi" by Radiohead

Friday, February 3, 2017

2017 Makeup No Buy Update: January Temptations

January Temptations




We've all heard of the term 'Sober January'. In my case, I didn't put down the booze but the beauty products. I made a resolution this year to not buy any new makeup items...well, who am I kidding? I knew that would be nearly impossible given my level of addiction. Rules were made to be broken, after all. I will, of course, make concessions for limited edition releases that I would regret not adding to my collection and I'm sure I will partake in a few major sales. But for the most part, my cosmetics consumption will be drastically cut! I'm talking a 90% decrease in purchases! This is a lot for someone who freelances in the industry and is constantly surrounded by the lure of new releases at a discounted price. One of my favorite hobbies is watching YouTube beauty videos which is also infiltrated with temptation.

January was a "no exceptions" month meaning there were no loop holes for me to jump through. Not only did I give up shopping for makeup this month, I hardly bought anything at all! I kept track of every dollar I spent regardless of how big or small the purchase may have been. I limited my consumption to basic entertainment necessities (concert tickets for future dates that I didn't want to sell out, birthday dinners, etc.). As they say, "spend time, not money."

I've been keeping track on my Pinterest Wish List board of the things that I normally would have splurged on. It will be interesting to see how many items are added but not purchased by the end of the year. If anything is still on there that I'm severely lusting after by the holidays, I may treat myself a bit after Christmas. I won't go crazy with buying though because that would only negate the progress made all year. But a girl deserves a little reward now and then. Without further ado, here are the products that I was tempted by during the first month of my makeup no-buy:


Clinique Happy Gelato Body Cream in Sugared Petals, $35

I'm not including skincare in my makeup no-buy but because January was a month that I tried to refrain from purchasing most things, I withheld picking this up. The scent is lovely and the adorable packaging makes me so happy. It reminds me of something the Korean beauty lines would produce. I will treat myself to this for Valentine's Day.


Chanel Spring 2017 Blush in 370 Elegance, $45

I freelanced for Chanel in January so of course the new Spring collection caught my eye. Chanel knows how to make a blusher and this beauty is no exception. It's the most natural shade with just the right amount of warmth and as its name suggests, elegance. I need to clear out my blush collection but I have a feeling this one will be on my mind for months. If it weren't for my no-buy, I definitely would be using birthday money to procure its place in my collection. I believe it's limited edition. The temptation is real.


Clarins Limited Edition Skin Illusion Blush, $21.50

The packaging sold me. I adore a lot of my Clarins makeup but I prefer the range for what they're known for, skincare. I have some gift cards so this might be a Valentine's Day cheat. Put a heart on something and I'm sold.


Clarins Limited Edition Lovely Energizer Lip Balm, $20

Along with its accompanying blush, this limited edition lippie has tempted me. Because it won't be out for long, I might have to treat myself to this with a gift card. Not only does this product hydrate but it also leaves behind a beautiful pink tint that matches to your body's chemistry. I have similar products in my collection but the packaging is too cute to pass up....and it's technically skincare. ;)


ColourPop Moonwalk Eyeshadow, $5

This is a gorgeous shade of goldish-green that I absolutely would have purchased if I weren't doing my no-buy. I have too many ColourPop eyeshadows. This I know. I will step away from the shadow. If it's still available at the end of the year and I'm still thinking about it, Moonwalk will be mine.


Tarte Shape Tape Concealer, $24

It wasn't until the past year or so that I felt I even needed to wear concealer. I don't like to collect them or foundation but this product seemed to be on everyone's best of 2016 list. Concealers don't excite me like other products but this one definitely sparked my interest. If I freelance for Tarte at some point in the year,  I will be sure to play around with this. Maybe an end-of-the-year purchase or VIB sale splurge if I like it.


Chanel Bronze Universal, $50

A cult classic that seems to be having a resurgence in popularity. I've always thought this bronzer made fair-skinned people look orange but many of the lighter ladies I follow keep mentioning it. I recently made a sample of it when I worked for Chanel. I'll put it on my maybe list. I tend to not like the feel of cream products on my skin but the way that this is whipped is very light in texture. I think the ColourPop cream bronzers helped to ease me back into the notion.


Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lipstick in Amoureux, $37

I just got rid of a ton of liquid lipsticks. I just don't care for the way they look and feel on me. I think the trend is so tired and unflattering and wish it would go away once and for all. But this formula isn't bad and I love the feel of the frosted glass container. This particular shade, unlike most liquid lipsticks, is subtle, natural and complimentary. I'm not tempted much but it's on the list.


Chanel Tinted Top Coat Nail Polish in Black Metamorphosis, $28

I'm not necessarily including nail polish in my makeup no-buy but I am trying to keep my spending to a minimum. When you have as many bottles as I do, there are few colors that get released that you don't have a dupe for or something similar. Black Metamorphosis is unique in that is deepens and darkens the color of whatever polish you have on. It can also be worn alone for an interesting grey hue. I think I'm going to hold off on this for a couple months. If I'm still thinking about it in the Spring and it's still available, I might let myself get it because it's unlike anything I've ever owned.


ColourPop Pressed Eyeshadow Palette in Lo-Key, $18

When I set out to do my makeup no-buy, I knew the one thing that would tempt me more than anything would be if ColourPop released regular pressed eyeshadow or traditional tubed lipsticks. Within days, this little gem was released. I asked for it for my birthday. Loop holes. The last thing I need is another eyeshadow palette (especially a warm-toned orange one) but as a ColourPop afficionado, I had to have this in my collection.


Dior Lip Scrub Sweet Exfoliating Balm, $33

When I freelanced for Dior a couple weeks ago, I was sure to try this out before I even considered buying it in February as a birthday/Valentine's Day treat. It's skincare, okay? It works very well and leaves behind the loveliest pink tint. I've been on the hunt for the best lip scrubs and this is a very gentle one that instantly works and can be used on the go. No mess. Highly recommend!


MAC Lip Scrubtious in Candied Nectar, $16

Speaking of lip scrubs, I was excited to see these in person. I'm glad I was able to experiment because the Candied Nectar scent surprised me as my favorite. It smells divine! I will be getting this with birthday money. I have been disappointed by the past few lip scrubs I've tried so hopefully this will surpass my expectations.




While I do get a substantial discount on these brands and always use Ebates to get cash back when I shop online, the total retail value saved from not purchasing these products would have been over $350! 

All in all, I'd say that January was an easy month. I only freelanced a few times so many products were out of sight, out of mind. With the holidays just over and my birthday at the start of Feburary, I tend to not spend a lot in January as it is. There weren't a lot of releases that tempted me. I know that as Spring approaches, things will become much more difficult when the collections start to launch and the sales pop up. May the force be with me!




Items I 'shopped from my own stash' this month:


JanuaryShopStash




Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, $40

I haven't reached for this in quite some time. I usually let my bronzer do the contouring job but on days when you have the extra time, this is a handy little kit.


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Brightener, $7

I love the Age Rewind Concealer but I initially wasn't a fan of the Brightener. I thought it was too pink. But if you use it in conjunction with the concealer and immediately blend it in, it works fairly well.


Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette, $49

I love my Too Faced palettes. They have an incredible eyeshadow formula and such sweet packaging. But I have admittedly put them to the side in exchange for some of my newer purchases. I enjoyed using my Chocolate palettes this past month. I have no desire whatsoever to get the Peach palette. Enough is enough!


Chanel Le Volume Mascara, $32

I had several samples of this mascara and decided to give it another shot. I really liked the way Le Volume paired with the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. I find Le Volume to be very thickening. While Better Than Sex purports to also be a volumizing mascara, I find that it also delivers very well in the lengthening department.


Inglot Gel Eyeliner in 77 (Deep Black), $15

When it comes to eyeliner, I almost always prefer pencil over liquid. Gel? Rarely. It just seems like an extra step with a brush that isn't necessary and can produce a less than natural result. But when you want a little extra va va voom, this gel liner delivers a sultry, long-lasting line. It is a very deep shade of black that somehow does not look harsh and it won't budge. The price is reasonable, the quality is fantastic and you get a lot of product. Definitely a cult favorite for a reason!












Now Playing: "People" by Yellow Days
*Just discovered his music and I'm loving it!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday: SOHN



SOHN is Christopher Taylor, an English ambient/electronic musician and producer, based in Vienna, Austria. His latest album, Rennen, is out now and can be purchased here.

In his own words:
"I'm not really working in the same way that a lot of electronic producers are; I'm working with instruments."

Conrad:

Rennen:

Signal:











Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Music Favorites: 20 of My Most Enjoyed Albums

Favorite Albums of 2016




I prefer to have my yearly favorites posted sooner but I started off 2017 feeling very under the weather (not to mention a brutal phase of Mercury Retrograde). I wanted to make sure I was in a clear frame of mind when I reflected back on which albums I enjoyed listening to the most. I hesitate to call these albums 'the best of 2016' because it would be impossible to say that with any level of certainty. It's a challenge to rank music as it's such a personal thing. I am a hardcore music lover but I would have to devote every waking minute of the year to listening to new releases to truly get a feel for everything. I tend to listen to music regardless of its freshness or relevancy. I also find my music organically and am not influenced much at all by critics or the blogosphere. This list is simply me sharing what I liked, in hopes of connecting with other fans or to someone searching for new sounds who may not be as familiar. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite releases of the past year...



Empire of the Sun, Two Vines. October, 2016.

I've been a major fan of this group for many, many years. Their music makes me happy. I have yet to see them perform live but hope that changes in the near future.

High and Low:

Two Vines:


Kanye West, The Life of Pablo. February, 2016.

Personal and professional antics aside, his music is still good.

Famous:

Fade:


Angel Olsen, My Woman. September, 2016.

I really like her vocal style and enjoy listening to her music when I'm in a relaxed, but somber mood.

Intern:
Heart Shaped Face:

Frank Ocean, Blonde. August, 2016.

The most-anticipated album of the year, Blonde, (or is it technically Blond...?) exceeded many expectations of a sophomore slump.

Nights:

White Ferrari:


Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway. June, 2016.

Hipsters will tell you RHCP aren't cool but I admittedly love the older stuff. Their most-recent albums have been very disappointing but this one was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. It's far from my favorite but Anthony Kiedis can still get it.

The Getaway:

Dark Necessities:


Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker. October, 2016.

Farewell to a legend. What an artist. What a man.

You Want It Darker:

It Seemed the Better Way:


Kristin Kontrol, X-Communicate. May, 2016.

The debut solo project from the lead singer of Dum Dum Girls. I really like this new direction.

X-Communicate:

Smoke Rings:


James Vincent McMorrow, We Move. September, 2016.

Fans of Bon Iver will enjoy this release from the sultry Irish crooner.

I Lie Awake Every Night:


Get Low:


David Bowie, Blackstar. January, 2016.

2016 was a year surrounded by the loss of countless musicians. David Bowie's final studio album, released on his 69th birthday, left fans with one last parting gift just days before his untimely passing.

Blackstar:

Lazarus:


Glass Animals, How To Be a Human Being. May, 2016.

Glass Animals has an incredible sound that's all their own. It always gets me going. I'll leave it at that.

Youth:

Poplar St:


Gallant, Ology. May, 2016.

Gallant was my favorite discovery of the year. I adore his voice and really loved the style of songs on this debut release.

Talking to Myself:

Weight in Gold:


Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool. June, 2016.

A band that needs no introduction, this album managed to make me love them even more.

Daydreaming:

True Love Waits:


Bon Iver, 22, A Million. September, 2016.

Bon Iver has produced some of my favorite music of the past decade. I was eager to hear the new sounds but much of its overproduction fell short of my very high expectations. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed some of these songs. Even when it's not my absolute favorite style, Justin Vernon creates innovative music. He is easily one of the most talented artists of my generation.

33 "GOD":

8 (circle):


St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Sea of Noise. September, 2016.

This was the first year that I took notice of the southern soul group who hails from Alabama. Stunning vocals and glorious instrumentation, this album is for fans of Motown looking for a modern take on classic oldies.

Midnight on the Earth:

Burning Rome:


Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth. April, 2016.

I'm not a major fan of country music but after attending college in West Virginia, I definitely picked up an affinity for certain sounds. If you're open to the genre that blurs between alt, rock and country, Sturgill Simpson is your man. Even if a twang isn't your thing, a true music lover recognizes talent when it's blatantly obvious.

In Bloom (Nirvana Cover):

Brace for Impact (Live a Little):


A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service. November, 2016.

With the exception of the title's atrocious grammar (of course there is a celestial, unknown meaning behind it), this album was a welcomed surprised. A Tribe Called Quest takes me back to my youth in the most simple yet remarkable of ways.

We The People...:

Ego:


Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine. September, 2016.

Despite Mac Miller being a hometown kid, I never fully connected with much of his music until this release. I really enjoyed the way these songs were produced. And if you've ever seen one of Mac's interviews, you can see that he is not only hilarious but also has such a loving, gentle soul that you really get to hear come through on this album.

Dang! ft. Anderson .Paak:

Skin:


M83, Junk. April, 2016.

M83 holds a special place in my heart so I am always receptive to a new album. This one wasn't my favorite but there are still quite a few tracks that won me over.

Do It, Try It:

Sunday Night 1987:


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. September, 2016.

I've been a fan of The Walkmen for a long time so it's no surprise that I really appreciated this album. Gorgeous vocals and lyrics accompanied with a haunting production, this was definitely one not to be missed.

A 1000 Times:

In a Black Out:


Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate. July, 2016.

I have loved this man's voice for a few years and was excited to finally hear what his second album would sound like. It's filled with so much beauty. All of the feels.

Cold Little Heart:

I'll Never Love:









Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016 Skincare Favorites: My Most Used Products for Normal to Dry Skin Types

2016 Skincare Favorites




I wasn't always a skincare type of person. With the exception of being ultra sensitive to the sun, I was fortunate in that I never really had any problems with my skin. I liked the idea of starting to take precautions against aging fairly early on but never put much effort into fostering a solid routine...not until I was in my late 20s that is. A job I picked up over one holiday season turned into a worthwhile position with the french luxury line Clarins. At the time (and still to this day), I was much more of a makeup junkie. I was a bit reluctant about my new role but was eager to learn as much as possible. I was excited to go through training and learn the exemplary techniques that Clarins skincare specialists use in their Parisian spas. Application is key, ladies and gentleman. Always gently pat and press your product into the skin; never pull, rub or tug!

While I was never enthralled with skincare products in the same way that a makeup palette can make my eyes light up, I was grateful for being placed in that role. If it weren't for that fateful alignment, I might have never bothered to put such a valiant effort into the care of my skin. With trial and error and a little bit of diligence, I have transformed my skin from very dry and dehydrated to balanced and normal. I'm proud to say that my skin is one of the things I get complimented on the most (I will be 31 soon but am frequently asked if I am in college). I take pride in keeping my skin looking the best I possibly can and am curious to see how the measures I take today will reveal itself in the years to come.

While every one has different skincare concerns and requirements, these are all products that I highly recommend. What works for one person doesn't always do the same for another, so precede with caution. Always ask for complimentary samples before delving into a new regimen. Save your money and try before you buy! And don't attempt to experiment with more than one product at a time; this will ensure that you can formulate an honest critique of whether something is working for you. Now, on to the products!




Cleanser:

Dove Moisture Beauty Bar Soap, $5

Most skincare snobs will tell you to never let a bar of soap touch your face. I'm glad I never listened to that advice because this moisture beauty bar transformed my skin. It's the most delicate of cleansers and easy to use in the shower. It instantly clears any blemishes and balances the skin. Best yet? It's very affordable! My only concern is the 3/4 version has been MIA from the market. I've used it for years and can't speak highly enough to its performance. I'm not sure if Dove changed the formula or its offerings. Anyone out there have an answer for me?

Bioderma, $17

Bioderma is a cult beauty favorite for a reason. It is one of the best products I have ever used. If you're American, there was a time not long ago when you had to know someone in Europe or pick this up while traveling in order to procure its presence in your arsenal. I vividly remember when I went to France a few years ago and asking the girls in my group if we could stop at a Pharmacy so I could bring back this miracle in a bottle. Fortunately for those of us who are stateside, you can now easily get Bioderma through Beautylish for a very reasonable price. I use Bioderma to cleanse my skin, take off my makeup, prep it for further product and refresh in the morning. It is a dream come true for those of us who have dry, sensitive skin. It has more or less replaced every makeup remover I have in that it does a tremendous job at gently sweeping away product without leaving behind a filmy residue. If you have yet to try Bioderma, I can not recommend it highly enough. I love micellar water in general, and there have been many wonderful releases, but nothing stands close to the original.

Shiseido Facial Cotton, $10

A bit on the pricey side but worth every penny! I use the Shiseido cotton daily along with my Bioderma and softener. For those who use liquid makeup remover, this cotton is also fantastic. I also use it to take off my nail polish if I'm feeling fancy. You can even saturate a pad to use for pampering. It's the softest cotton on the market and does not shred. If you have sensitive eyes and skin, there's nothing worse than cotton particles interrupting your regimen. If you haven't done so already, give this a try during a Sephora VIB sale or use reward points (I love Plenti) to cut back on the cost. It makes such a difference.



Exfoliator:

Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains for Face, $44

Because my skin is a bit sensitive when it comes to harsh exfoliators, it was semi challenging to find one that does the job effectively without irritation. These grains are on the pricey side but a little goes a long way. I usually only exfoliate my skin as needed (on average, once every week or so). This product is unique in that you can use it on its own with warm water or as it's designed to be mixed in with your favorite foaming cleanser. I have paired it with my Dove beauty bar as well as traditional cleansers from Clarins and have yet to experience a bad reaction. Tip: Even though the sand grains are soft, be extra gentle when massaging the product into your skin, cautious to avoid the eye area.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner, $39

My skin tends to lean on the dryer side of normal so I don't reach for this product very often. But during the warmer, more humid parts of the year or during "that time of the month" when my skin is experiencing additional oil production, I apply this mostly to my T-zone with a Shiseido cotton pad. It does a good job at removing dead skin cells and adding brightness. Tip: Because this toner contains salicylic acid, be careful not to expose your skin to the sun while using this product.



Softener/Toner:

Shiseido Benefiance Balancing Softener Enriched, $45-$73

This softener has been one of my favorite products for several years. It transformed my skin. Because I lean dry, toners just aren't my thing. They usually do more harm than good. If you're in the same boat, I can't recommend a softener highly enough. It is the perfect addition to your regimen. After cleansing, I saturate a cotton pad with this softener and apply it on my face, neck, decollete and even hands. It works to balance the pH levels in your skin while hydrating and prepping it for further product. It increases the performance of serums and moisturizers and works like a dream. I can't be without this phenomenal product! If you are dry, definitely go for the enriched version (which costs the same as the regular formula). If you are normal to combination, the regular softener should work nicely for you. If you're oily, definitely stick to a traditional toner.



Serum:

Lancome Advanced Genefique Serum, $78-$175

I call this wondrous potion my super serum. It's excellent for using in partnership with a stronger serum. The texture is fast absorbing and feels wonderful on the skin. It's fantastic for all skin types and works to increase radiance and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Clarins Double Serum, $89-$119

I wasn't always a fan of this serum but as I've gotten a bit older, I've really grown to appreciate its potency. A very rich formula, I recommend this for combination, dry and mature skin types. I like to use it every other night. The scent is delicate but pleasant. It helps to boost the power of my moisturizer and works to battle wrinkles and enlarged pores.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $65-$95

I have a slight love-hate relationship with this serum. I don't particularly favor the scent or the consistency (it's rather sticky) and my dropper never seems to smoothly release the product. But it works. I use it at night in rotation between the Clarins Double Serum. Results include plumper skin with less fine lines and wrinkles. I adore the shape and color of the bottle. It feels like something you would find in an apothecary shoppe.



Moisturizer:

Shiseido Future Solution LX Night Regenerating Cream, $260

This is one of my favorite night creams for providing saturated hydration and anti-aging properties. While the astronomical price is a tough pill to swallow, I am fortunate to get an insider discount on the line and am cautious to only purchase it around the holiday season when there are value sets and bonus gifts offered. It's an investment in the future of my skin as this product definitely helps to nourish and protect from the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. If I slack on using this product, I start to see the difference and conversely, when I reintroduce it into my regimen I see instant results.

Shiseido Future Solution Total Revitalizing Cream, $230

I have been using this cream in rotation for the past couple years and finally finished the container. It was my introduction into high-end moisturizers and what a foray it turned out to be. This is a very rich cream so I only recommend it for those with dry and/or mature skin. It's phenomenal at adding a boost of hydration and plumpness to the skin. If you go to sleep with this moisturizer on, you will awake with better looking skin. I'd love to be able to afford another jar to put into rotation with the other Shiseido Future Solution cream but as of right now, that's not in my budget. Tip: Prioritize what is most important to your beauty routine. I never pay to get my nails or waxing done. The money that I save on services like this allows for me to allocate those resources to my skincare products.

Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream, $75-$95

If the Future Solution Line does not fit into what you would like to spend on a night cream or feel that it is too concentrated, I highly recommend this Bio-Performance cream. It's very similar in texture to the Future Solution line but much easier to wear. It's light enough that it can even be used during the day for those who need the extra hydration. I rotate this cream with the others mentioned and find them to produce somewhat similar results at maintaining a youthful appearance.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin, $17

Because I go so hard with my nighttime skincare routine, I usually find by morning that my face needs minimal attention. I can usually skip an AM moisturizer but when I wear makeup, I always like to prep my skin with a fast-absorbing gel-cream formula. There are a few products on the market that I like but one that stands out the most is this one from Neutrogena. It instantly hydrates and plumps the skin while creating a wonderful base for your makeup. When it comes to the drug store, Neutrogena really hits it out of the park with so many of their bath and body products. I can't recommend their line highly enough.

Clarins Extra-Firming Advanced Neck Cream, $89

This might sound preposterous to some but a solid neck cream is critical in your skincare routine. When I was in my late 20s, I started to notice a few lines deepening on my neck that appeared to have formed from looking down at my phone and sleeping on my side. I quickly realized that the delicate neck area is one of the first places that shows your age. Anything that you use on your face, you should be carrying down to your neck and chest. But when it comes to a moisturizer, the neck's surface requires special attention. I've found that my own responds extremely well to the Clarins neck cream. It absorbs quickly and you see and feel results instantly. The price is painful but the results are phenomenal. In the few years that I have been using this product, those lines have dramatically faded and I notice firmer skin.



Eye Care:

Shiseido Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, $67

Using a serum before a moisturizer helps to boost the potency of your products by allowing the ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin. This goes for the eye area as well. I didn't care for the Ultimiune face serum but the eye concentrate is pretty good. Shiseido scientists spent a lot of time and resources developing this line of products with Harvard researchers and the results I have seen are worthy of a mention.

Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate, $85

This is one of the best eye creams I have ever used. It's light enough to wear during the day under makeup but it's also effective enough to use as a night treatment. It's very hydrating, fast absorbing and helps to reduce dark circles, puffiness and fine lines and wrinkles. I have sensitive eyes and wear contacts but have yet to experience any irritation. Tip: Always gently press the product into the skin as opposed to rubbing. I am liberal with where I apply my eye cream. Rather than just patting the cream under the eyes, I also put the product on the entirety of my lid up to the brow bone. In addition to this, I also apply to the areas where I have dubbed "the mask of Zorro". I apply eye cream to the space above my eye brows, in between where 11's form, and around the contour where crow's feet develop. Many people use their moisturizer as their eye cream but you should really be using a separate cream. The skin surrounding the eye area is different than the rest of the face and requires special attention. A heavy night cream or even a lighter day moisturizer will be too richly saturated and cause swelling and puffiness.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, $52

I love using this eye cream during the day underneath my makeup. Similar to the Clarins (and much less expensive), it is fast absorbing and hydrating. I don't necessarily see this as tremendous for correcting fine lines and wrinkles but its hydration properties are definitely helpful. You can always rely on Bobbi Brown's skincare products to work cohesively with makeup.

Bobbi Brown Extra Eye Repair Cream, $74

This eye cream is thicker in consistency and works best at night as a treatment. Some people like to use it during the day but I prefer not to have a heavy eye cream under my eyeshadows even if it's fast-absorbing. When applied at night, you will notice in the morning a firmer, more lifted appearance to the lids.

Shiseido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream, $130

Speaking of heavy eye creams, this is one of the thickest I have ever tried. I use it once or twice a week at night when I want to have extra treatment for my eyes. It's wonderful at correcting fine lines and wrinkles and preventing new ones from forming. It can also be used around the mouth to correct any lines that may have emerged in that area. While it is an expensive product, the deluxe sample that I received from my Future Solution holiday value set has lasted me a very long time.



Hand Care:

Etude House Pink Vital Water Serum, $20

As mentioned above, serums are very helpful in boosting the performance of your creams. Hands are no exception. In the latter half of the year, I decided to use this serum from Etude House on my hands and chest area as it's lightweight and affordable. It's not at all sticky and absorbs quickly into the skin. It's also good as a hydrating daytime serum for the face.

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream, $30

I've never been a fan of using hand creams. I find that they're usually sticky or take too long to dry. The Clarins hand cream is a wonderful exception. It's on the thicker side without being too heavy. Despite its somewhat rich consistency, it absorbs very fast. It works to improve hydration and diminish the appearance of aging. I also like to use it on my nails and cuticles. The scent isn't for everyone but it's one that I've actually grown to appreciate as I now associate the botanical fragrance with being effective at healing my skin.



Lip Products:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey, $26

I touched on this product in my previous 'best of' beauty post but felt compelled to include it on this list as well. It definitely falls in line with both a makeup and a skincare item. It's phenomenal!

Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, $24

The same can be said for this fantastic balm. To read a bit more on what I think of it, please be sure to check out my previous post.

Pangea Organics Italian Red Mandarin with Rose Lip Balm, $14

I discovered this indie brand several years ago through a Birchbox. It is one of my favorite lip balms of all time. It is silky smooth, hydrating and fairly long lasting. The ingredients are good for your lips, the scent is pleasant and the pricing is pretty good. It's harder to find than most products but as of the time this post was written, you can purchase it through Amazon which I have linked above.

Chanel Hyra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care, $50

If the price doesn't send you running for the hills, this is an excellent luxury lip balm. Because of its packaging, for sanitary purposes and convenience, I tend to only use it before bed when I am in the comfort of my own home and have easy access to a tissue. I've never been a fan of having to dip my fingers into a potted lip product but this formula is wonderful for healing dryness. You get a good amount of product (.35 oz) and a little goes a long way. One container, with off and on usage, has lasted me a couple years. When I finish this product, I plan to repurpose and fill the elegant packaging with one of my more affordable lip balms. Keeping it real. Keeping it bougie.



Treatments:

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil, $28

I've been a fan of body and hair oils for years but there's something about putting oil on my face that is only now catching on with me. When I first bought this multipurpose oil, I resorted to mainly using it on my hair and body. The scent is relaxing and very pleasing to the senses. It was not until recently that I became brave enough to apply a bit of this oil on my face (usually when I'm feeling dryer than normal). It's also wonderful to add a few drops in with your nighttime moisturizer. It leaves the skin, hair and body feeling soft and supple. I love that it has a spritz dispenser and isn't in glass packaging. You get a good amount of product for your money and a little goes a long way (3.4 fl oz). I highly recommend trying this out-- if only for the scent!

Evian Mineral Water Spray Duo, $15

This has been a favorite of mine for years. Mineral water in a can, perhaps. But I love it for so many different purposes. I keep it near my bed so I can spritz myself in the morning on days when I'm not in the mood to get out of bed. Who needs to splash water on your face at the bathroom sink when there's an Evian bottle right next to you? I wish I was kidding but I'm fully serious. I love it as a refresher during the day or while I'm traveling. It's excellent in the winter to relieve dry skin and in the summer to cool you down. It's wonderful to prep your skin before makeup or to cancel out any excess powder. I can't tell you how often this product comes in handy. I definitely recommend purchasing the smaller size so you can toss one in your purse or carry-on bag (I won't go on a plane without mine).

Etude House My Lash Serum, $5

As far as I am concerned, this is the best kept secret in lash and brow serums! If you've ever shopped around for one, you'll quickly realize that they are all extremely overpriced. $100 is the norm for a tiny tube. I have tried these products and they are good but not worth the money. I gave My Lash a try on a whim and I'm so glad that I did. I was so impressed and pleasantly surprised with my results! I use this product every night during my skincare routine on my lashes and brows. I noticed after only a week or so that my hairs were softer, shinier and longer. While it takes about a week to truly see the benefits, you will feel the results the next morning. You can not find another product on the market that does what this does for such a low price! I have repurchased several times over as I apply a generous amount and go through the tube rather quickly. Do I recommend you buy one? No. Buy 5 of them! 

Etude House Sheet Masks, $1

I couldn't include a best of skincare list without mentioning my favorite sheet masks! Also from Etude House, these marvelous wonders are both extremely affordable and effective. There's a mask for every concern. Etude House has excellent price points but you can almost always apply a discount code to get their products for even less. I have experimented with several of their offerings but have never had a negative reaction to their ingredients. You could tell me that these masks would do nothing for my skin but I would still continue to repurchase them as they're so relaxing to apply on the skin. I love spending an evening or two a week listening to soft music, a meditation or a podcast with one of these masks on. You can not beat the quality for the price. Korean beauty products are once again among my favorites of the year for their playfulness, affordability and high quality. And because I haven't said it enough already in this blog post...I highly recommend!


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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, fashion marketing, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. One of my many ambitions is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!