Valentine’s Day Manicure

My Valentine's Day-inspired manicure. (Please excuse my cracked winter cuticles - ouch!)

My Valentine’s Day-inspired manicure. (Please excuse my cracked winter cuticles – ouch!)

My inner girly girl has always loved the over-the-top pink-and-red frilliness of Valentine’s Day. So when my fabulous friend over at Cowboys and Crossbones posted her Valentine’s Day manicure, I was inspired to do one of my own! It’s simple but I’m totally loving it. I painted the pink nails with Revlon Colorstay Longwear Nail Enamel in Passionate Pink and the red accent nail with Formula X by Sephora in Pyrotechnic, followed by a coat of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day manicure look? Are you sporting one this year?

All I Want For Christmas…

???????????????????????????????Since I’ve just spent the better part of my day wrapping presents and decorating our Christmas tree with my husband, I’m pretty much full-on in the holiday spirit. And now that we are less than three weeks out from the big holiday, I thought I’d share my holiday wish list as a sort of holiday gift guide for all the beauty fiends on your list. A word of caution – you’ll probably want to pick a few of these items up for yourself, as well!

1. Birchbox Subscription: This is the number one beauty gift on my list because, as a former Birchbox subscriber, I know how much I loved it! In case you have not yet heard of (or subscribed to) Birchbox, this beauty subscription service delivers a box of personalized deluxe beauty samples to your house for $10 per month. Sometimes the samples are a small – think a packet or two of shampoo – but more often than not there’s a full sized nail polish or lipstick in your collection, and I’ve found many new favorites through this service. 3, 6 and 12 month gift subscriptions are available.

2. Fresh Sugar Ruby Romance Gift Set: This is the perfect gift for the gloss and balm lover in your life. Fresh Sugar lip balms are the best of the best, and I’m loving the ruby red shade for winter. Also, I’m dying to try that gloss.

3. Bliss Triple Oxygen Facial in a Box: Who doesn’t love a good spa day? The idea of being able to give yourself a Bliss Spa-quality facial in the comfort of your own bathroom is so tempting, and with a $12 price tag, how can you pass it up?

4. Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair: For all the green beauties on your list, what could be better than the gift of all-natural lip balm in beautiful packaging? I love Osmia Organics products, and if this jar of balm is as effective as their Best Lip Balm, I need it in my life.

5. Osmia Organics Lavender Shea Soap: I really love a good, smooth bar of soap, and lavender is my favorite scent. Plus, Osmia soaps are so beautiful, you basically don’t even need to wrap them.

6. The Ciate Daily: A set of seven killer nail polishes in an adorable newspaper-inspired makeup bag? You bet this makes my list!

7. Victoria’s Secret VS Stripe Train Case: I really love train cases for stashing makeup, and I’ve always been a sucker for the pink and white stripes. Why not get the girlie girl on you list one of these? Better yet, why not fill it with the other goodies on this list and really make her Christmas?

What are you hoping to find under the tree this year?

Fall Polish Picks from RUFFIAN

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund

Aside from the occasional classic red or hot pink manicure, I tend to keep my fingernails pretty tame. I have a whole shelf dedicated to clear or almost-clear nail strengtheners that do little more than add shine and perhaps the faintest pink or white tint to my nails. But in the fall I always seem to find a darker, more dramatic manicure appropriate. With that in mind, let me tell you about my new favorite nail polish brand – RUFFIAN.

I received this cool shimmery dark green polish – RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Hedge Fund – in a Birchbox last year. I was intrigued but intimidated. That is, until I swiped the impossibly easy to apply polish on my nails and realized how much I love it. The color is super saturated, so one coat completely covers each nail, and the oddly shaped cap actually makes the brush incredibly easy to hold and maneuver. It dried quickly and I really cannot get enough of this color.

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Endless Love

RUFFIAN Nail Lacquer in Endless Love


Looking for something similar with less of a camo-flavor? Might I suggest Endless Love, a beautiful shimmery purple in the RUFFIAN collection. I’m pretty sure it’s the loveliest nail color I’ve ever seen, which is why it is at the very top of my must-buy list.

What shades are you loving this season?

It’s Magic! Sephora Instant Nail Polish Remover

Sephora Instant Nail Polish RemoverLast week I asked some friends for help. It appears that after nearly eight full months of not shopping for new products, of using up samples and my stockpile of shampoo and body lotion, I’ve run out of things to write about. I’m sure I haven’t really run out of things, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt quite uninspired. Which is why I asked for help. And after sending out my blog post SOS, one of my friends came through with an awesome product that I’m now going to share with you!

Sephora Instant Nail Polish Remover comes in a cool little round bottle and is so incredibly effective, it does seem like magic. The bottle is lined with remover-soaked foam; to remove polish, you simply dip your finger in the middle and give it a little twist. Two seconds later, your polish is completely removed. It’s amazing! The remover is also free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan, and does not smell like nail polish remover. If you ever paint your nails, this is a must-have for your makeup bag. I’ll be buying it as soon as I use up my current bottle of remover.

Trend: White(ish) Nails

Sephora Formula X Nail Color in Thrilling is a lovely alternative to an opaque white pedicure

Sephora Formula X Nail Color in Thrilling is a lovely alternative to an opaque white pedicure

The white mani/pedi look has been popping up all over the place, and I have to say, I like it. I’ve long been a fan of the white nail polish trend, especially in the summertime. There’s just something so fresh about clean white nails on a hot summer day, and it complements a tan perfectly.

The problem, of course, is that opaque white nail color can look dangerously close to correction fluid. I, for one, was not a fan of the white-out manicure in high school and I certainly don’t like it now. So how can we enjoy a fresh white(ish) nail look without looking like angsty teens?

My pick is Sephora Formula X Nail Color in Thrilling, part of the “New Neutrals” line of Formula X polishes. It’s an extremely pale opaque gray with slight purplish undertones. It’ll definitely set off a tan, and with a color this pretty, there’s no danger it’ll be mistaken for an office supply.

Vacation Beauty Essentials

While on vacation, I like to keep it simple and summery during the day.

While on vacation, I like to keep it simple and summery during the day.

Next week I’ll be leaving on my honeymoon, flying from my current cold and rainy climate to one that is much more hot and sunny. As I’ve been thinking about what makeup I’ll be bringing along, I’ve come to the conclusion that vacation brings out my beauty split personalities – so simple for day, much more dramatic for evening. Below, a look at what I’ll be packing for a beautiful honeymoon.

Of course my number one priority is sunscreen, and since my husband and I are both paler than pale and burn easily, I’m packing SPF 70. However, that does not mean that I wish to look pasty white throughout my trip. Enter my newest obsession, St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion.

St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion turned my skin from pasty (right) to warm and glowing (left)

St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion turned my skin from pasty (right) to warm and glowing (left)

This smooth lotion looks scary dark and bronzy in the tube, but is easily rubbed into skin to create a warm, surprisingly natural glow. Once dry it does not rub off on clothing (or sheets), and it smells warm and summery. It makes skin feel ultra-smooth, and washes off easily with soap and water.

I’ll also be wanting smooth, unburned lips during my trip, so I’ll be sure to pack a tube of Carmex Moisturizing Lip Balm in Lime Twist, an SPF 15 balm that is ridiculously silky, long-lasting, and has a refreshing, tingly feeling.

And since I’ll be busting out my sandals for the first time since last summer, I’ll need a punchy pedicure. Right now I’m loving Nailtini Lacquer in Mai Tai, a fun red-orange that looks great on pale skin or with a tan.

I'll use these gems to kick things up a notch for evening

I’ll use these gems to kick things up a notch for evening


I’ll stay pretty bare-faced while out in the sun, sticking to my favorite BB cream and my Carmex during the day, but at night, I’ll kick things up a notch. BareMinerals Mineral Veil will even my complexion and keep any unwanted shine at bay. I’ll swipe on my favorite summertime lip color, Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Coral, and a festive evening eyeliner, NARS Glitter Pencil in Le Sept, a sparkly dark purple. Naturally, I’ll finish it all off with curled lashes and my favorite vampy mascara, Eyeko Black Magic Mascara.

What are your vacation beauty favorites?

Think Pink For Spring

In my neck of the woods spring has been taking its sweet time arriving this year; as I’m writing this I’m gazing out my window at stubborn banks of snow that at this rate may still be here in June. As a result, lately I find myself reaching for the happiest, most optimistic shade in my makeup bag: pink. The good news? Pink is a pretty universally flattering shade and it’s big for spring. If Mother Nature doesn’t want to brighten things up outside, I’ll do it on my own! Here are the pink products I’m sporting this season:
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Eyes: When I read in Allure Magazine that pink eyeshadow was a big trend for spring, I nearly jumped for joy. I’ve discovered the prettiest pale pink shadow; so pretty, in fact, that I chose it as my eye color for my wedding day last September! If you’re searching for a nice soft shadow that can be toned up or down, try Sephora Collection Colorful Eyeshadow Shimmer in Sweet Candy. Bonus points for using a pink applicator, too (I bought a pack of these at Sally Beauty Supply).

Lips: I’m guessing exactly no one will be surprised to learn that Maybelline Baby Lips in Pink Punch has made it into my spring lip look rotation. ???????????????????????????????I’ve been alternating between that old favorite and another one – Jouer Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink. It’s a great hot pink shade that goes on sheer but can be layered for more color.

Nails: While I have an abundance of pink polishes in a variety of shades, right now I’m obsessed with Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Nail Polish in Anime (note: the brand’s matching lip tar is a great hot pink lip color if you’re wanting something bold!). A word of caution: a manicure this bright needs to be impeccable. Mine lasted 3 days before it started chipping, so be vigilant with the top coat!
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Extra Credit: When that manicure does start to chip, why not remove it with something equally cheery? Beauty Secrets Acetone Nail Polish Remover is the gold (or pink) standard in removing stubborn polish. Similarly, I can’t do without my MAKE Dual-Phase Eye Makeup Remover. It never bothers my sensitive eyes and gets every last bit of makeup off my eyes, waterproof or otherwise.

March 2014 Empties

Okay, so, nearly three months into my self-imposed shopping ban and I have successfully stuck to my guns! The only beauty product I have purchased has been deodorant (after using up all my samples) and I did get a free birthday gift from Sephora last month, but no purchase was necessary for that. Well done me! However, I will say that I feel like I’ve been coasting through these first several weeks, as I was well-stocked with many of my everyday favorites. As April approaches I find that I’m using up a lot of my go-tos, and so this little experiment should start to get pretty interesting in the weeks ahead.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the rundown on my latest batch of empties; it will be very hard to say goodbye to some of these products, but I have to admit, it’s really nice to see a little extra space on my bathroom counter!???????????????????????????????

Aussie Aussome Volume 2 in 1 Shampoo: I’m not sure how many times I’ve written about this product, but I really can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a great timesaver as it truly is moisturizing enough on its own to skip conditioner, and pretty much every good hair day I’ve had since discovering it can be attributed to this shampoo. It smells great, and I miss it already.

Avon Naturals Body Sugar Plum & Vanilla Shower Gel: I’m going to call this gem of a body wash the first “win” of my shopping ban experiment – I threw it in the shower after using up my previous one and have been in love with it ever since. The smell is a little exotic and totally lovely, it gets nice and sudsy, leaves skin clean and fresh, isn’t overly drying, and doesn’t leave you smelling overly perfumed, which can be a hazard of scented shower gels. This is my favorite new body wash, and the next time an Avon lady comes my way I’m going to purchase a dozen of them. After the ban is over, obviously.

La Fresh Travel Lite Antiperspirant Wipe for Women: I really wanted these deodorant wipes to work better than the last ones I tried, but they did not. Once again, by mid-morning I was wondering who had the B.O. until I realized it was me.

Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer: Thankfully I have another full jar of this waiting in the wings because this is my favorite nighttime moisturizer of all time. It softens, brightens, and feels delightful. Plus, it’s great to slather on post-chemical peel.

Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm: Another old favorite that has made the blog several times, this is my favorite lip product ever. It feels great, plumps lips, and magically turns the perfect shade of pink for each wearer. Everyone at my wedding wore this, including me.

Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Body Butter: This tube of delightfully citrus-scented cream lasted me an incredibly long time. I used it as a hand cream and it was perfect – not greasy, not too perfumed, and very moisturizing. I’m a huge Pacifica fan and think you get so much for your money. If you’re looking for a nice hand cream, try this one.

Nail Polish: The Spice of Life

Turns out, a standard spice rack is perfect for storing and displaying nail polish!

Turns out, a standard spice rack is perfect for storing and displaying nail polish!

Are you a nail polish junkie? Do you love finding creative ways to organize your beauty products? Do you spend more time cooking up new looks in the bathroom than cooking anything in the kitchen? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, read on.

I actually do enjoying cooking in my kitchen, but I think we all know how much time I spend playing with makeup, and with an ever-growing collection of nail polishes, I was having some difficulty keeping them organized. That is, until I had the brilliant idea to repurpose my lovely spice rack as a nail polish organizer! It works perfectly! Not only are those tiny shelves the perfect size for my little bottles of nail color, but now I can see what I’ve got at a glance – no more digging through pails of polish to find the perfect shade!

Pedicures 101: Six Steps to Pretty Feet

feet2There are few beauty rituals I enjoy more than the pedicure. Going to a salon and having a professional pamper your feet is incredibly relaxing, and you leave with a frequently abused and overlooked part of your body feeling refreshed and healthy. Not to mention the fact that freshly-pedicured feet look lovely and well-groomed. It doesn’t matter how disheveled the rest of me is; when my heels are smooth and my toes are newly painted, I feel like I’ve got it together.

Unfortunately, I frequently do not have the time or money to spend on a salon pedicure. Plus, given how easy it is for me to reproduce a salon-quality pedicure at home, I have a hard time justifying the expense most of the time. The good news is, even when I do the job by myself I still feel amazing. So, just in time for sandal season, here’s your six-step guide to a perfect at-home pedicure. (Please note: this guide assumes that you’ve trimmed your nails and removed any old polish before starting.)

1. Soak your feet in warm water. I usually use water that’s quite hot. To me, it adds to the relaxing feel. If you have Epsom salts, scented oil or a nice foot soak, feel free to throw it in. If not, plain ol’ H2O will work. I generally soak for about five to ten minutes.

2. Scrub your feet all over with a specialized foot scrub. I’ve long been a fan of Freeman’s Bare Foot line, and their Creamy Pumice Foot Scrub in Peppermint and Plum works wonderfully. Rub it all over the bottoms and tops of your feet, paying special attention to your heels and anywhere else you may have rough spots.

3. Scrape away dead skin. Okay, this is the gross part but I promise it’s the most effective way to get rid of dragon feet. While your foot is still covered in foot scrub, use your fingernails to scrape dead skin off your foot, once again spending extra time on your heels and/or rough spots. When you’re done, rinse your feet (and hands!).

4. Slather a thick lotion or, better yet, specifically formulated foot cream all over feet, toes and ankles. I swear by Ahava foot creams. Let it soak in for at least five minutes.

5. Swipe nail polish remover over each toenail. Depending on the thickness of the lotion you used, you may want to do this twice. The goal is to remove all traces of product and oils so that your nail polish will glide on easily and stick to your nails.

6. Select a fun shade of polish and paint on a coat or two. Right now I’m loving hot pinks, like Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish in Poppy (shown).