Oil Change

When it comes to beauty, “oily” is a four letter word. An oily skin type is less than desirable. An oily scalp is synonymous with a dirty one. We use blotting papers, dry shampoos, mattifying gels, anything to stop the slick and look, well, dry.

But what’s so great about being dry? Sadly, our efforts to get rid of the oil often result in the loss of our natural glow. Glowy is good! Dewy skin and shiny hair and nails are something we all long for, yet many of us seem to be okay with killing the glow in order to avoid looking oily. How silly we are!

The truth is, oil is not the enemy. We don’t want to look, feel or be greasy, and that is what we are fighting against. But our efforts to strip the oils from our skin and hair frequently make the problem worse. When we over-clean our skin and hair without properly replacing moisture, our bodies try to compensate by producing more oil. We need a little oil to keep things in balance. But that’s not all! Not only do we need some of our natural oils, but you may be surprised to discover that adding oils to your beauty routine – instead of trying to remove them all the time – can take your look to the next level, while helping to keep any greasiness in check.

I’ve been using several different oils as part of my regular beauty routine, and the results have been wonderful. My skin has never – EVER – been softer. My hair is silky and frizz-free (even in ridiculous humidity). And best of all, I’m no longer battling any greasiness.

Ready to stop treating oil like the enemy and start using it in a beautiful way? You can start by giving these three favorites a try:

Olive Oil: Plain ol’ run-of-the-mill olive oil has long been my secret to a great at-home manicure. Fill your sink with warm water, add a few drops of olive oil, and soak hands for five to ten minutes. For added softness, massage a drop into each cuticle before you soak. After you’re done, gently push your cuticles back, rinse your hands, and pat dry. Swipe a nail polish remover-soaked cotton ball over each nail to remove excess oil before painting them. Your cuticles will look great and your hands will be extra soft!

Johnson’s Baby Oil: This favorite of babies everywhere claims to lock in up to ten times more moisture than regular lotion, and my ridiculously soft skin leads me to believe that this claim is true. Immediately after showering I slather baby oil from the neck down while my skin is still damp. It quickly absorbs into my skin, and the result is absolutely amazing softness. For extra smooth skin, exfoliate with a good body scrub first.

Orofluido Hair Oil: This beauty elixir is truly liquid gold. Work a couple of drops of this sweet smelling oil through your hair before blow drying – it smooths frizz, gives hair a silky texture, and honestly is the best smelling hair product I have ever used. The best part? The results last for days without weighing hair down or causing strands to look dull – or greasy.

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Sandal Season

Tis the season to wear sandals, and you’d better not get caught flaunting your feet without a pedicure. At the very least your feet deserve a good scrub and your nails should be buffed – done right, a nude pedi can be very sexy. But if you prefer a pop of color down below, check out these five fun formulas that will make your feet look so good, you’re sure to say farewell to closed-toe shoes for the rest of the season.

From Left to Right:
Essie’s Jelly Apple is a crisp, clean and classic red.
L’oreal Nail Color in Tangerine Crush is smooth and glossy and is my new favorite orange.
An eco-chic option, Zoya’s Izzy is a shimmery fuschia that lasts for days.
Feeling like a rock star? Nails inc. Magnetic Polish creates a unique wavy pattern of two ultra-cool colors. I’m obsessed with Houses of Parliament, a metallic purple.
OPI’s My Pointe Exactly is a sheer soft gray, perfect for a subtle ladylike shine.

Hands’ Best Friend

I have long aspired to be the kind of lady that never bites her nails or chews nervously at her cuticles, whose perfectly filed and polished manicure is perpetually chip-free and shiny.

 

This kind of lady I am not.
 
 
Happily, though, I’ve recently discovered (and become OBSESSED with) a new nail product that hides all my nasty nail habits and makes my hands look so pretty that I no longer WANT to gnaw on them.
 
 
By Terry Nail Laque Terrybly Nail Glow Brightener in Sheer Bubble Glow (100) is the greatest thing to happen to my nails since Rite Aid started carrying Essie polishes. It is a nail primer that strengthens as it polishes and is meant to make nails look brighter and well-groomed in one application. I have to tell you, I was skeptical – yet hopeful – when I first opened that chic little bottle and glazed my nails with the stuff, but boy oh boy did it impress!
 
 
The sheer white polish dries very quickly, leaving nails slightly lighter in hue, noticeably stronger and perfectly glossy. My first coat lasted 5 or 6 days without even a hint of a chip, and once it did start chipping I easily removed it all with polish remover and swiped on a fresh coat; I can’t get enough of this perfect-nails look!
 
 
BONUS: Want to truly take your digits to the next level? Start using the Nail Glow with the ultimate cuticle savior, Sephora Stimulating Lavender Cuticle Oil. This pen-brush delivers a neat dose of super softening cuticle oil – I noticed a vast difference in the appearance of my cuticles after one use, and after a few my dry, cracked winter cuticles were cured. Sephora offers the cuticle oil pen in other scents, but I can’t get enough of the mild lavender scent!

Multi-taskers

It’s been far too long since I last posted. In my defense, a lot has happened in the past six weeks or so. Not only did I wrap up the holiday season with plenty of parties, but my boyfriend surprised me with a New Year’s Eve proposal. In January the thrill of being newly engaged was temporarily overshadowed by the onset of a mysterious lung infection. Said ailment caused me to miss a week of work, so the rest of the month was spent working long hours to catch up on important beginning-of-the-year projects, and my growing office task list was made longer by the loss of a co-worker (and good friend) who bravely decided to start a new adventure in a new city in the new year. Add to all of this the fact that I’ve been helping with wedding plans for my sister’s April nuptials while also trying to track down the perfect venue for my own wedding, and I clearly haven’t had a moment to spare. Which is why I’ve completely revamped my beauty routine and am now sticking to a pared-down collection of beauty multi-taskers that get me in the shower and out of the house in 30 minutes flat. If you, too, are finding yourself swamped and searching for a few more precious moments in your day, try one (or all) of these beauty MVPs:

Aussie Aussome Volume 2 in 1 Shampoo: I’ve blogged about this drugstore wonder before. In the past, I praised it for its ability to make my hair look cool-girl perfect the day after I washed with it. Now it has returned to my shower because, as far as 2 in 1 shampoos go, it’s the best at cleaning, conditioning and adding some oomph, all in one quick lather and rinse. It also has a fun essence-of-bubblegum scent that my fiance loves – he says it reminds him of when we first started dating (Aussome Volume has long been a staple on my shower shelf).

Nivea Touch of Cashmere Cream Oil Body Wash: I’ve searched high and low for a body wash that is truly moisturizing enough to nix the need for a post-shower layer of lotion; so far, this one comes the closest. The bottle boasts an orchid blossom scent, but I find the scent to be so mild it’s barely noticeable. The body wash does have a magnificent lather. It creates an abundance of silky smooth bubbles that softly caress the skin, leaving it smooth while keeping dry, itchy winter skin at bay. While I recommend using a body lotion on days when you have time, this body wash moisturizes enough so that you can skip it on days when you don’t.

Votre Vu Bebe Duette: This fun, fancy French hand cream is a beauty double whammy and is great in the morning, at work, or anytime you need a boost, day or night. The tube of rich cream smells fantastic and comes with a smooth raspberry lip balm in the cap. The cap also holds a mini mirror for on-the-go touch ups. You’ll want to keep one at home, in your purse and at work, so you can gloss your lips and smooth your cuticles while you’re running out the door, to a meeting, or before you collapse into bed. Just because we’re too busy to take a breath doesn’t mean we can’t look polished!

Vamped Up

 

Ah, Halloween. The one day, each year, that we are all free to try someone else’s persona on for size. A day that allows little girls to become princesses, little boys to become superheroes, and grown women to dress like slutty cats/nurses/police officers.

 

For me, Halloween has always been about the makeup. It’s my chance to try a different hairstyle, rock some red lipstick, or wear fake eyelashes. One year a girlfriend and I threw on some devil horns with cat-eyes and sexy Bardot hair. Another year I went all sweet and innocent as Little Red Riding Hood, with angelic makeup and pigtails. This year, I’ll be going all out gorgeous and getting in touch with my inner vamp.

 

Of course by vamp and I mean vampire, and I’m not talking about the just-rolled-out-of-the-coffin variety. I’m talking about the impossibly beautiful True Blood vampire, with fair skin, sparkling eyes and flushed cheeks.

 

When I learned that Tarte had created a special collection of makeup inspired by the show, I had to get my hands on it. The Tarte for True Blood collection is available at Sephora, and includes a colorful eyeshadow palette (complete with how-to instructions on recreating some True Blood looks) and a glamourous deep red cheek stain. Envious as I am of that sexy True Blood flush, I snapped up the cheek stain with glee.

 

The stain comes in Tarte’s signature tube and smells absolutely delicious. The deep dark red gel is laced with sparkle and can be layered for various levels of shimmery flush. Once applied, you have a few seconds to blend it before it sets, so be ready to smudge it or you’ll end up with an obvious streak of color on your face. Blended correctly, it creates a believable vamp-ish glow; the first time I tried it, my boyfriend took one look at me and said “you look just like Jessica.” He was referring, of course, to True Blood’s tall, pale, ridiculously good-looking redhead, on whom I admittedly have a bit of a girl crush. And although I know he was stretching the truth more than a little bit, with that one compliment I instantly felt I got my money’s worth.

 

In addition to creating a perfect vampire complexion – I’ll be playing up my natural fairness along with my sparkly flush – I found a sinful nail polish that will help me complete my undercover vampire appearance. Sephora by OPI’s Garden of Good and Evil collection is filled with rich fall colors, and I’m obsessed with What’s Your Poison, a deep glittery red that looks like it was made to match Tarte’s cheek stain. From the moment I saw the polish in a magazine ad, I started lusting after it. In fact, I gushed about it so much that my coworker (and good friend) surprised me with a bottle of it one Monday morning after a weekend trip to Sephora – talk about a great way to start your week! The polish looks very red in the bottle but actually goes on a sheer magenta. I like to apply it with a somewhat heavy hand – doing so creates a darker, redder shade with lots of glittery depth. It’s pretty and oh so fun: a mischievous addition to a refined vampire look.

 

To finish off the look, I’ll most likely dab a little of the cheek stain on my lips – as with the cheeks, you can add as little or as much as you want to create the desired level of color. I find that this shade creates a very subtle and sexy stain on the lips, making you look as though you have just been bitten by a vampire.

 

Or, at the very least, kissed by one.

Polished, Naturally

 

It’s hard to ignore the impact we, as humans, are having on our environment, and even though I wouldn’t consider myself a full-on Greenie, I do try to do my part to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. I’m a big believer in making small changes that can add up to a big impact – recycling, switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs, shopping with eco-totes rather than using plastic grocery bags, etc. – and those small changes can sometimes be made in my beauty routine. I’ve tried all-natural moisturizers, exfoliators, body washes and shampoos. Some have been keepers and some have been duds. But by far the most delightful “green” product I’ve encountered has come in the form of nail polish.

 

Zoya Nail Polish is natural, non-toxic, and comes in a huge selection of colorful and quirky shades that are dripping with chicness and sass. My favorite shades are playful neutrals: Pandora, a creamy beige-pink, and Dove, an ultra cool soft gray.

 

A word of caution when using natural nail colors – they are just as gorgeous as traditional high-end nail colors, but they simply do not have the staying power that classic polishes do. Zoya boasts that it is the world’s longest wearing natural nail polish, and that may very well be the case, but you definitely don’t want to scrimp on top coat when wearing one of these sassy shades.

Lavender Up

I love lavender – I have long considered it my signature scent. Sure, I occasionally stray from it, trying various perfumes and body lotions that do not contain that soothing floral, but I always return to it and always feel most myself when I’m wearing some sort of lavender – and I’m not alone. I’ve recently discovered that some of my coworkers love lavender as well. Inspired by our mutual lavender adoration, I’m spreading the word on some great products and sharing the lavender love.

The girls in my office are obssessed with Glendarragh Lavender (http://mainelavender.businesscatalyst.com). This Maine-based lavender company makes a variety of home and beauty products that any lavender junkie would desire. One of my coworkers can’t stop applying the Omni Herb Balm to her cuticles – it helps heal dry skin and calms her on particularly stressful days. Another one likes to spritz a lavender room spray to brighten spirits and give her office a lovely, subtle scent.

Recently I’ve been slathering J.R. Watkins Natural Apothecary Hand & Body Lotion in Lavender all over each morning before work. I bought it for less than $10 at my local Rite Aid, and it comes in a medicinal-looking purple and white bottle, which I love. It’s very moisturizing and, naturally, has that pure lavender scent that I adore.

The most recent addition to my lavender aresenal is Secret Scent Expressions antiperspirant and deoderant in “ooh-la-la lavender.” Unlike the lotion and cuticle balm, this product doesn’t smell like pure lavender oil, but it does have a lovely lavender-ish scent that lasts all day and keeps my underarms dry. Secret makes a matching body splash that I’m thinking of trying as well.

I still haven’t found the perfect lavender body spray or perfume – if anyone knows of a great one, please let me know. After all, it is my signature scent.