Sheet Mask Sunday

I’m very drawn to sheet masks. They usually come in fun packaging and I like the idea of perfectly portioned beauty treatments that take very little effort. Most sheet masks consist of a concentrated treatment that sits on top of your skin. When your mask time is up, you simply remove the sheet and massage the remaining treatment into your skin. Easy peasy.

Because I’m so drawn to these treatments, and because they typically have an easy-to-justify price tag, I’ve amassed quite a collection of sheet masks. So in an effort to work my way through them, I have declared this my inaugural sheet mask Sunday.

Since it’s January and the combination of freezing cold winds and dry indoor heat has pretty much turned me into a scaly lizard, I decided to go for hydration. Today I tried not one but three masks. For my flaky face I used a Sephora Aloe Vera Face Mask that claims to hydrate, refresh, and plump the skin while leaving it supple and full of moisture. It was definitely refreshing and did plump up my skin a bit. My face still feels drier than it should but it no longer looks flaky, so that’s a win. With it’s aloe content, I could see this being a lovely post-beach day mask in the summer. If your skin is only moderately dry this would probably do the trick.

The other masks I used today were these fun Aveeno Repairing Cica hand and foot masks. With these, you slip your clean, dry hands and feet into disposable booties and gloves, chill out for 10 minutes, then remove and massage the leftover product into your skin. These masks contain shea butter and prebiotic oat, which is meant to soothe and nourish the skin. I really enjoyed these masks and can feel a definite increase in hydration in my hands and feet. If you have tough calluses this won’t eliminate them, but it will leave your skin feeling really comfortable and soft. As a bonus, these masks are fragrance-free and formulated for sensitive skin. I would recommend them for anyone looking for a quick and easy winter pampering session!

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Last-Minute Beauty Gift Guide

So Christmas is just a few short days away and you still haven’t finished shopping. Fear not! If you’re wondering what to get the beauty-obsessed on your list, I’m here to help!

If you’re looking to wow your most high-maintenance loved one, why not give the gift of great hair? Drybar’s Peace on Earth Good Hair to All! gift set is sure to make her year.

Great for beauty enthusiasts of all ages, Ciate Pick & Mix lets you create your own 3-piece nail polish set. Ciate is my favorite high-end nail color brand. I recommend adding one of the fun sparkly shades to your set to make it extra festive.

For the natural beauty on your list, you can’t go wrong with the Caudalie Winter Duo. She’ll stay soft and smooth all winter long in a natural, French-girl sort of way. Editors Note: this gift is actually on the top of my list, but it seems to be sold out online, so if you find it somewhere, let me know!

Of course, if you don’t have time to shop and/or need your gift to get there fast, you can’t go wrong with a Birchbox gift subscription or a gift card to Sephora or Ulta!

What beauty gift are you hoping Santa brings you this year?

Wedding Belles

Three weeks ago my twin sister married the man she loves. They had a lovely ceremony and an even lovelier reception, all white linens and peach roses and flickering candles. The chilly April air outside was no match for the love and warmth inside that day. And the pretty decor was no match for the radiant bride; I have never seen my sister look more beautiful.

While I remember the way everything looked, and the way we all felt that day – I, for one, was an emotional wreck – the wedding itself flew by in a blur of activity: ceremony-photos-speeches-dinner-drinks-cake-dancing-what-do-you-mean-it’s-over? What I remember clearly, though, are the hours leading up to the big event. I will never forget the time spent “behind the scenes,” helping my sister (the bride) and all of our friends (the bridesmaids) get ready for the beautiful day that awaited us.

It’s obviously no secret that I’m a bit of a beauty fiend. The morning of the wedding I packed my entire beauty arsenal and brought it with me to the suite where we were to get ready. My sister had hired a hairdresser to come to the suite – a long lost childhood friend, with whom it seemed like no time had passed as she joked and chatted and whipped our hair into intricate updos and cascades of curls. We drank mimosas and steamed our dresses and listened to favorite songs as we decided how to go about making ourselves beautiful.

My favorite memories of the big day – memories that I will certainly cherish for the rest of my life – are of the frantic questions my friends were throwing at me as show time drew closer and closer: Can you fix my eye brows? How do I apply this eye shadow trio? Which color looks best on me? Can you trim my hair? It was a whirlwind of beauty activity, and I was honored that my friends trusted me at such an important moment. So I trimmed hair, gave a tutorial on eye shadow application, helped select makeup shades and dusted everyone’s face with finishing powder (Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder) to help keep shine at bay in photos.

My favorite memory – and biggest honor – involved the bride herself. Time was running out, and the hairdresser – who was meant to do my sister’s makeup in addition to everybody’s hair – had to make a call. “Can you do your sister’s makeup?” she asked me, a little flustered. “I trust you.”

So, as my sister sat still, getting her hair curled and pinned and hairsprayed for that oh-so-important walk down the aisle, I sat across from her and made up her face, determined to make her look just the way she’d want to – fresh, glowing, flawless, but not to “done” – she’s not really the makeup-wearing type, and I knew she wanted her soon-to-be husband to recognize her as she approached him at the alter.

Not to toot my own horn, but (toot, toot) I have to admit I did a damn good job with her makeup that day. She looked exceptional. And just like herself. Herself with impossibly perfect skin, soft lips, and eyes that were even more dazzling than normal.


So, in case she wants to replicate her gorgeous bridal look, or in case any of you, loyal readers, are looking for a perfect wedding look, here’s what I used and how I used it:

First, I used a warm washcloth to clean her face and dampen you skin – I find moisturizer goes on more smoothly when the skin is slightly damp. She didn’t want a lot of heavy makeup (she, like me, is blessed with pretty darn good skin), so instead of foundation I smoothed on Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint in Pearl. It has a bit more coverage than a typical tinted moisturizer but still has a light feel, and it does give the complexion a luminous glow. I evened out dark circles and any random blemishes with Mineralogie Ultimate Cream Concealer in U2. This is hands down the best concealer I have ever used; it has long lasting coverage and it doesn’t settle into creases around the eyes.

We wanted her eyes to stand out but in a natural way, so we used brown shades instead of blacks. First I had her curl her lashes. Then I lined the outer corners of her eyes with Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Lionfish, a rich medium brown. Stila Smudge Sticks glide on ridiculously easily – I highly recommend them. I then lightly lined her lower lash line with the same liner, smudging out ever-so-slightly at the outer corners for just a hint of a cat eye.

After the liner I used a trio of Clinique shadows on her lids. I used Teddy Bear as a highlighting shade from lashes to brow bone. I used Buttered Bronze, a medium brown, as a wash of color from her lashes to her crease, and then finished with a thick swipe of Chocolate Chip, a dark brown, right along her lashes. I finished off her eyes with a generous swipe of L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Hydrofuge Mascara in Black Brown. Her eyes looked stunning.

To brighten her complexion and give her a soft flush, I used a fluffy brush to sweep Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in Dollface on the apples of her cheeks and along her cheekbones.

The finishing touch, of course, had to be the perfect lip color – something plumping and moisturizing, natural-looking, and kissable – no sticky glosses or chalky lipsticks allowed. I used Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Tint in Peaceful, a nude peach. It was absolutely perfect. It’s long lasting, very moisturizing, and not sticky in the least – ideal for a bride.

And, of course, I gave her a dusting of finishing powder, just like everyone else. In the end, mission accomplished – she was flawless.

Here are some other products that proved popular (and effective) as we made ourselves up for the day:

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Lipgloss in Sangria. An ultra-flattering red that did not budge throughout the entire day. It also has a mini mirror on the cap – handy!

Sephora Nectar Shine Hydrating Care Lipgloss in Raspberry Shine. Several of the bridesmaids swiped this berry gloss on before the ceremony. The color is universally flattering and the shiny gloss lasts longer than most.

Too Faced Lock Down Ultimate Creaseless Cream Eye Shadow in Bedroom Eyes. A bronzey taupe, this shadow stayed put through tears and tissues.

Speaking of tear-proof, I picked up Maybelline The Classic Volume Express Waterproof Mascara in Very Black on my way to the wedding, knowing I’d be shedding a few tears throughout the day. Boy am I glad I did – even when I flat-out bawled during my Maid of Honor speech, my mascara didn’t smudge.

And honestly, at a wedding, what more can you ask for?

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!

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.

Glow With Me

It’s rare to try a beauty product and instantly recognize it as the best. But that is precisely what happened last week when I opened an order from Sephora. Wanting to take advantage of the recent VIB sale, I decided to try a couple of items that have been on my wish list. Among them – Dior Addict Lip Glow.

I’ve long been a fan of the Dior Addict fragrance, a warm, sexy scent that takes a decent amount of swagger to wear. I find a spritz of the stuff puts an instant wiggle in my stride. The Lip Glow, I hoped, would have a similar effect.  

Dior Addict Lip Glow is a somewhat pricey lip balm that goes on clear and then reacts with your personal chemistry to create a lip color that is unique to each wearer. Intrigued by this feature, I swiped on the clear light pink stick and waited.

Within seconds, my lips had transformed to a natural-looking dark pink. They felt incredibly smooth and moisturized. Not only that, the balm seemed to make my lips look plump and gorgeous. I honestly don’t think my mouth has ever looked better.

It’s a long-lasting lip moisturizer and color enhancer, and gives a natural-but-still-glamorous look. Plus, it looks different on everyone, letting you achieve a look that’s all your own.

If that doesn’t put a little pep in your step, I don’t know what will.

Something for Everyone

I know, I know, it’s been weeks since I posted last, and many of you are probably jonesing for your weekly dose of gloss. Have no fear, my lovelies! I have been working on a major upgrade to the blog, which will be launched in the new year. In the mean time, I thought I’d help you finish off your holiday shopping with some gift ideas for everyone on your list.

For your best friend: I love a good holiday gift set, and this year my favorite is the Philosophy Peppermint Bark gift set. It comes in a cute candy cane striped tin, and contains a mint-chocolate bubble bath/body wash, as well as a matching sheer red lip gloss that I LOVE. You might want to get one for yourself as well – I did.

For your brother/boyfriend/husband/dad: There are many more man-friendly products and gifts on the market these days than you might think. Brands like Nivea, Axe, and Old Spice all make gift sets. I particularly like Old Spice, which comes in a variety of new scents that are amazing. Check out the Matterhorn and Denali scents; my boyfriend and I both agree that these smell the best.

For your mom/sister/grandma: Why not give the gift of lovely hands this year? A gift certificate for a manicure is always appreciated, but if you want to give a gift that’s a bit more hands-on (pun intended), there are several great hand products to choose from. Tweezerman makes mini nail-files that come in a matchbox and couldn’t be cuter. Perfect Formula Pink Gel Coat is my absolute favorite when it comes to day-to-day nail maintenance – it is a clear gel that strengthens nails and leaves them with a healthy, sheer pink shine. And a nice hand cream rounds out any at-home manicure kit. I like Aveeno Active Naturals Intense Relief Hand Cream, and the full line of Arnica hand creams (available at yvesrocherusa.com).

Stocking Stuffers: If you’re like me, you love walking down the sample-size aisle of any drugstore. Mini bottles of shampoo, shaving cream, and body lotion are not only adorable and affordable, but they make great testers and stocking stuffers. If you want to snazz up your stockings this year, you can also check out the beauty minis section at sephora.com. You can find anything from itty bitty perfumes and moisturizers to travel-sized mascaras and lip balms.

Merry Christmas, and happy shopping to all!