Search Results for: label/Revlon

An Ode to Revlon ColorStay Foundation

All the magazines say summer is the time to lighten your makeup. Switch from concealer and foundation to a tinted moisturizer or BB Cream. I say… who are these people who come June have shrunken pores, their zits disappear, and have invisible redness and dark circles? it’s 2014 and any smart woman knows that tanning is terrible; come summer my skin is the same, only sweatier. I still want to cover and even my skintone, I just want it to stay put through summer’s heat and humidity.

Best Summer Foundation Revlon ColorStay

And so today is an ode to Revlon’s ColorStay Foundation. I know, I know I’ve already raved about this product here and here, but it’s worthy of a THIRD post. I used the whipped version almost all winter, but as soon as Memorial Day arrived I switched from the jar for dry skin to the bottle for oily/combo skin. And I haven’t looked back.

Most days, I put on my SPF moisturizer, let it soak in, then put on the foundation, set it with E.L.F. spray and go. Some cream blush (this one is still my jam), some waterproof mascara, and lipcolor. The foundation doesn’t cover my freckles, but it’s heavy enough to cover the scar from the zit I had most of May, the redness under my nostrils, and the giant dark bags under my eyes thanks to allergies and my cast being the size of a third person in our bed (but not snuggly enough to spoon).  Don’t slather it on; a fine layer (I use my fingers to apply though it also goes on great with a brush) gives plenty of coverage and doesn’t feel heavy.

When I want to look more polished, I’ll apply Dr. Brandt’s Pores no More, the foundation, pat some Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage under the nose and eyes, and finish with the E.L.F. spray or a dusting of NARS powder if I’ll be inside most of the time. No need for concealer anywhere else, Revlon blurs enough for me to look pretty darn fabulous. The other day, I got to work at 7 and had an event after work; I was able to be evening ready with a light mist of Avene, remove under eye smudges with a Neutrogena wipe, do a couple pats of Laura Mercier, and another dusting of NARS. Last summer I had to wash and reapply my face to look human after 5pm.

One thing to note: this is a long-wearing foundation and doesn’t come off completely with wipes or a quick face washing. In the summer I wash my face twice (with CeraVe); once with my fingers, and a second time with my Clarisonic. This really removes all the makeup, the sweat, the grodiness of the city but doesn’t dry me out.

The older I get, the harder it is to look healthy and refreshed with a bare face. I care for my skin, but life still makes its mark. It’s nice to have a budget-friendly product not make me look caked on and too made up, but look the way I feel. To have it last all day even in Washington DC humidity? Mega bonus!

Revlon ColorBurst™: Review and Giveaway

Recently I shared with you one of my beauty secret weapons – having a face uniform and switching it up with one single beauty product. It was the end of the summer and beginning of fall, and I was feeling soft glossy lips and a more subtle look. But now that the weather has gotten downright chilly, Daylight Saving Time has happened and it seems to be dark all the time, it’s fun to add a punch with a bright or bold lip.

My face routine has changed a bit for the colder months to include more hydration and a CC cream to add color and evenness to my winter pallor, but it is still a uniform. When it comes to a favorite lip product, for a year it has been the Revlon® Just Bitten Kissable™ Balm Stain. Romantic is a soft red that makes me feel like Snow White when I wear it (I reviewed it here), and Crush Begun is a perfect dark berry shade that is perfect for this season’s fashion trends (worn here). I love these chubby crayons because they are easy to apply even without a mirror, they stay put without being drying, no need for a fancy sharpener, and they fade nicely without looking as though I ate off my lips.

I guess I am not the only one who adores these lip products, because Revlon® has come out with two amazing products – the Revlon ColorBurst™ Lacquer Balm and the Revlon ColorBurst™ Matte Balm. And yes, I am just as obsessed with these products as I am with the Revlon® Just Bitten Kissable™ Balm Stain.

Both of these new products are in the same convenient container – a cap that actually stays put, a retractable point that never rolls up when in your purse, causing the product to smash into the cap. Both products wear as nicely as the Revlon® Just Bitten Kissable™ Balm Stain, and have just as wonderful of pigment. However, these products give a completely different and very on-trend effect to the lips:

The Revlon ColorBurst™ Lacquer Balm provides a lacquer-like high shine finish with balm-like moisture. Infused with a triple butter complex of shea, mango and coconut butter, these chubby crayons are kind to winter-chapped lips. I received Demure and Vivacious; Demure is a very pale pink with a hint of shimmer which looked a bit chalky on me when worn alone, but makes for a lovely sheer topcoat over matte lipsticks and stains (you can see it on me in this outfit post, worn over the Revlon® Just Bitten Kissable ™ Balm Stain in Crush Begun). However Vivacious is my new love, and holds a place of respect in my purse with Romantic and Crush Begun. A gorgeous hot pink that would make Barbie jealous, it’s a fun color that will jazz up your holiday LBD or make an otherwise fresh face look cheerful on a cold winter day. You can see I wore it in this outfit post and it gave a fun pop of color to a neutral look without looking too extreme for work.

The Revlon ColorBurst™ Matte Balm, like the Lacquer Balm is infused with that triple butter complex. The difference between the two is the Matte Balm is just as it is named, a matte look, but has a soft and non-drying balm finish. I received Audacious and Striking and I have to say I am a mega fan. In winter, it’s hard to carry off a matte lip without looking like death warmed over or having your lips crack and flake. With the hydrating ingredients in the Revlon® ColorBurst™ Matte Balm, you can achieve the matte look and still have soft, supple lips. I love these two colors, they really brighten a tan-free winter face without looking extreme, I think they look great with a bit of flush to the cheeks (still rocking the Revlon® PhotoReady™ Cream Blush in Coral Reef), and lush lashes. Audacious looks like a terrifying orange in the package, but on it’s a surprisingly wearable mango shade that I think would look fantastic on many skin tones. Striking is a bright red with almost a neon tinge that reminds me of a very popular orangey-red lipstick work by a certain bespectacled style icon, but at a nicer price and an easier application. Both can be made more intense of a color with stronger application; a quick swipe will give a sheer layer of color.

My beauty secret weapon remains the same – keeping it simple but making it look more complex with a quick change of one product. And this fall and winter expect to see that product be Revlon’s ColorBurst™ Balms!

Giveaway
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Revlon: My Secret Weapon (and a Giveaway!)

Products for this post were provided by Revlon. All opinions are my own.

As a blogger as well as a full-time working mom, I sort of feel like a super hero. Having a child has taught me how to work on less sleep. Working and managing a blog has made me a maestro of time management. Having a happy family and successful career is thanks to being a multitasking rockstar. But all of this is thanks to secret weapons I have gathered over the past couple of years.

One of my best secret weapons is having a uniform. It’s clear from this blog that I don’t wear the same thing every day, but with time and experience I have pared down silhouettes and color stories to make getting dressed each morning far simpler. I no longer fight my figure or lifestyle, but shop to incorporate these two first, current trends second.

The same comes with my beauty routine. My secret weapon of a uniform is just as important with my cosmetics. I do the same exact face every single day, and then add variety with one simple change of eyes or lips. I recently shared how I switch up my beauty routine to incorporate eye color, but this fall I am a bigger fan of keeping my eyes uniform, and adding punch with my lips. I really like my lips, and I find making them the focus gives the look more impact, and really puts my uniform secret weapon to good use!

Revlon recently sent me three of their Revlon ColorBurst™ Lip Butters to add to my beauty routine. I’m a mega Revlon fan, and have used their ColorBurst™ Lip Butters before and have enjoyed them so I was thrilled by the gift. Available in 20 fabulous shades, the Revlon ColorBurst™ Lip Butters are a buttery balm with shiny color. The hydrating mango, Shea and coconut butter formula boosts lip moisture by 156%; in a study 94% of women felt lips were softer, smoother, and instantly hydrated after using Revlon’s ColorBurst™ Lip Butters. I love this product because it feels so good all day, wears quite nicely, gives great shine without stickiness, and is one of those products you can put on sans mirror and look amazing.

The three colors I received were Pink Lemonade, Peach Parfait, and Berry Smoothie. All three are wearable shades of pink that would be flattering to many skintones no matter the season; I was especially thrilled to receive Berry Smoothie because I owned it previously but lost it on a vacation.

Berry Smoothie–it’s like my lip color, but better.  Not too pink, not too mauve, just a more polished me.  I love wearing this color on weekends and I keep it in my purse for quick touch-ups during the workday.

Peach Parfait – A great way to try the coral lip trend without too much intensity.  For someone who prefers cool tones, this is a very flattering peachy shade.  A hint of shimmer, this is a great lip color to balance a bolder smoky eye.

Pink Lemonade–like the beverage, sweet but with an edge.  The tube may make you think this is a teenybopper pink, but the color is quite flattering to all ages and looks great with flushed cheeks and defined lashes.  It’s also a great topcoat on lip stains for a bit of shine and necessary hydration.

With a uniform of same face, cheeks, and eyes each day, there’s the time and money to be more daring or creative with your lip color. I love that I can get ready in just a couple minutes because I have perfected my uniform face, and I love that a switch from a dark stain to a bold lipstick or a fresh glossy balm like Revlon’s Lip Butters can completely transform my look.

Giveaway:
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What I Wore: Corporate Cobalt

nora gardner blue nora gardner separates nora gardner

Top and Skirt: Chelsea Collection c/o Nora Gardner | Shoes: Nine West | Coat: Vintage (similar) | Necklaces: Nordstrom, Nordstrom, eBay (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘In The Red’

As a petite curvy woman, I find most corporate fashion requires alterations to fit.  So when Nora Gardner contacted me and told me about her Chelsea Collection I was thrilled.  Now those of us who are petite, tall, a different size on top than on bottom can get an almost custom fit straight from the box! Made in New York at the Garment District, Nora Gardner is exclusively for professional women who want something simple yet aesthetically pleasing that can also be worn from day to night.  The Chelsea suiting collection is feminine, flattering, but works for even the most conservative workplace.  Well made in a great selection of colors, I can see mixing and matching these pieces all seasons of the year.  I plan on wearing the lined skirt with my black turtleneck sweater and tall boots, and the top would look great with my winter white tropical wool suiting trousers.  Nora Gardner also offers gorgeous work-friendly dresses as well as professional-looking jewelry and hair accessories.  I love finding out about woman-owned and USA-made companies who understand and cater to the professional woman with style!

Saving Face: Long Wearing Makeup for High-Stress Moments

2014… we’re having a rocky relationship. We started with the best of intentions but there have been quite a few things in the past few months that have caused stress, distress, and many tears. I fully believe that taking care of what’s inside takes precedence over taking care of your exterior, but I also know that looking good can improve your mood, and not having to worry about how you look gives you room and time to focus on more important matters.

A couple months ago, I had a pretty severe and unexpected cryfest. When I calmed down, I went to the bathroom to clean up and was amazed that the only thing that was messed up was my lipstick. I had attended an event earlier in the day and had a full face but didn’t have to dab a single smear from under my eyes or reapply concealer. Unfortunately, I have had many opportunities since to test out my makeup and it has held up to sweat, to tears, to allergy attacks. It’s the season of pollen, prom, graduation, weddings, and unexpected situations always arise; here’s what I use for a face that holds up even if you’re breaking down:

The Base

Dr. Brandt’s Pores No More
After moisturizing, I use one pump of this primer on my forehead, cheeks, chin, and around my mouth. It fills pores and fine lines without caking and never causes me breakouts. I highly recommend this product even on its own without foundation; it evens the skin, fills without looking fake, and lasts most of the day.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation
In the winter I used the Whipped Creme version, but now that it’s getting hot and humid I’ve switched to the formula for oily/combo skin. When I had the cast and wasn’t expert at blending with my non-dominant hand, I started applying with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush (great line of budget-friendly high quality brushes), and then using my fingers or a BeautyBlender to blend around the eyes and nose. The brush gives me an even finish with less product. And the foundation looks natural (I use Medium Beige) and seriously lasts all day and into the evening without rubbing onto someone’s shoulder during a hug.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
I once read an interview with a makeup artist who said he always applied concealer after foundation so it didn’t get rubbed away. I tried it and have been using that method ever since. I am a Laura Mercier fan, I’ve been using this concealer for six years and nothing compares in my opinion. The compact comes with two colors so you can blend the two or choose a lighter for dark circles, darker for zits. I use SC-2 and like the light color for the corner of my eyes which get very dark, and the darker color under my eyes because the orange tone cancels out the shadows and doesn’t leave a ghost-like finish. I use my ring finger, tap into the compact, tap onto the skin. I don’t rub, I just tap until it is blended.

Color

Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush
I use Coral Reef, which I find natural on my skintone.  I reviewed it here, and I have to stress how you apply makes all the difference. Like my concealer, I tap in the compact, tap on the face, and then blend. This blush lasts all day and is shimmer-free so it’s appropriate for daytime and serious occasions.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Color
I reviewed it here, but it’s great because it lasts all day; I have even gone in a pool and came out with still colored and groomed brows. You can rub your face and it won’t budge, but comes off easily with a gentle face wash.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette 1
I really love these shadows, they are natural colors, versatile, and last a good amount of time. I like that there’s no shimmer (except Venus which I never use), so I can have a simple day look and be appropriate for more serious occasions. Naked 2 alone on the lid and a bit over the crease can give enough contour and definition for daytime; Faint can add more contour or replace liner.

Maybelline Stiletto Liner
I like this in Brownish Black which isn’t as severe as black and matches my dark brown eyes. The felt tip is easy to use; I start in the middle of the eye and draw a skinny line right along the lash line to the outer corner, then go back and do a bit in the center. This makes my lashes look more lush and it doesn’t smear. It will drip in a pool or rainstorm, but it holds up to a cryfest or sweaty day at a festival if you use a very thin line right at the lashline.

Too Faced Better Than False Lashes
First I curl my lashes, then a light application of the mascara from this product, focusing on the tips of my lashes. Then the fiber product, removing any fluff balls and wiggling between lashes. Then a final sweep of the mascara, again wiggling through lashes to get all surfaces and prevent clumps. I do not put this product on my lower lashes because it’s sticky and when you cry your top and bottom lashes stick together and you cry even more and start grabbing at your lashes and… well just don’t do it. If you feel the need for lower-lash mascara, consider a water resistant formula (I use Cover Girl Clump Crusher).  To ensure this sticks around, don’t rub your eyes – if the product gets wet AND is rubbed it will shed all over your cheeks.  But if it gets wet and can dry naturally it will stay in place.

Set it and Forget It

NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder
My skin is pretty dry in the winter, so I usually can go without a setting powder. However if I know it will be a long day or a sweaty one, I use this product (applied with the Sephora bronzer brush) to set my base face.  It’s invisible, but it seems to do a bit of airbrushing while keeping all my products in place.

e.l.f. Studio Mist and Set
I love this stuff. Two spritzes and my face will stay in place for HOURS. it doesn’t clog my pores, doesn’t sting, doesn’t leave a matte finish, just acts like hairspray to hold everything in place. I use this daily, and keep the NARS for special occasions.  I have used this, had fitful sleep, woken up and still have a decent face and no pillow case covered with foundation.  Pretty impressive for a cheap product!

Other Tips:

  • Be Prepared.  CVS and other drugstores often have a trial pack of makeup wipes in their travel section; it’s great to have one of these packs in your purse to do makeup repair. Instead of rubbing away everything, it can spot clean up dripping mascara or liner or a smeary lip and you don’t have to rinse afterwards.
  • Keep a Neutral Lip. The last thing you want to do is have lipstick on your teeth, your chin, your cousin’s cheek, your husband’s suit jacket. Stick to a subtle lip (I love Laura Mercier’s Sparkling Pink lipstick for an almost-nude face and Revlon’s Balm Stain in Romantic for a touch of red that fades nicely) so you can focus on what matters.
  • It’s Okay to Go Bare. If the idea of putting on makeup stresses you out, DON’T DO IT. Your health and comfort and taking care of others is always top priority. These suggestions are if you are like me and feel that a finished face gives you a sense of normalcy and a “suit of armor” to battle through tough situations.

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My Wardrobe Today – Thursday

BlouseCAbi
Skirt – Ann Taylor via eBay (similar)
Necklace – Got at Ross back when I was in college
TightsNordstrom
Shoes – Nine West (similar)
Lipstick Revlon Colorstay Ultimate in Top Tomato (using Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm to keep it soft and shiny throughout the day)

I seem to forget that in DC it seems to rain pretty much from the beginning of October to the middle of January, when it turns to snow. My husband and I were discussing this yesterday morning, and how in the past five years we can recall a rainy Halloween, rainy Thanksgiving, rainy Christmas, New Years, and birthdays for me, Emerson, my mom and sister (all January babies). Right now the sky is clear, but it is quite cold (while yesterday we had the windows open). I love this knit biker jacket I got from Gap last fall – just as cozy as a thick hoodie but with far more style.  Hot coffee and a cozy jacket – ready for the chilly commute!

 

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What I Wore: It’s Myne

myne heidi dress hobo bags clutch zippers myne heidi dress review

Dress: Myne | Bag: Hobo Bags (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Glasses: Zenni Optical | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’ | Ear Cuffs: Etsy (here and here)

I wrote about this dress in this post. A lot of you wanted to see me in it since I am a very different shape from the model, but it has been too cold to bust out this lightweight silk dress until now. When I bought it I figured I’d style it with peeptoe ankle booties and my wide silver metal plate belt, but once spring arrived I decided I liked it a bit more stripped down. The dress is by the brand Myne, and each time I read the label I say, “It’s MINE!” in the whiny voice I use when I read Emerson her book, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share.  As an FYI, this is a size 10; I originally got a 12 but found it too long for my petite stature.  The 10 fits comfortably but the belt that came with it is too small (no biggie, the belt is kind of ugly and cheap looking).

If you signed up for my monthly Style File newsletter you know that I recently got these glasses. They’re huge, they’re bright, and they’re a lot of fun for a very low price (hello prescription lenses under $30!). I’ve been wearing a lot of red lately – I’ve been doing a red lip almost all winter and have been choosing OPI’s Big Apple Red as my nail polish of choice for almost a year. It made sense if I was going to buy some funky glasses to have them in my current signature shade!

What I Wore: Mosaic

gwynniebee2 gwynniebee3 gwynniebee1
Dress: Triste c/o Gwynnie Bee | Shoes: Nine West | Necklace: c/o Sweet & Spark | Bag: J. Crew (old – similar) | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in Poinsettia

This dress is the same as the one I wore in this post, but in a completely different pattern it gives a completely different effect. I love this print; it reminds me of a mosaic or stained glass and in some of my very favorite colors! Gwynnie Bee is so great, this dress arrived the day of this dinner which made it super easy to know what to wear the next morning. Nothing better than a freshly-laundered arriving in time for a morning of a wine hangover and too few hours of sleep! Click here to try Gwynnie Bee and get your first month free!

This necklace is from one of the coolest companies I have come across in a long while. Sweet & Spark is a curated vintage jewelery company. Jillian and her dad Howard travel about the country scouting the most modern costume jewelry from the 1940s-90s with the goal to make vintage jewelry cool again. Sweet & Spark believes that every woman is unique and should celebrate her personal style with something one-of-a-kind. In just two years, Sweet & Spark has been featured in Instyle’s best of the web round up, on Luckymag.com and The Zoe Report and have fashionista Olivia Palermo as a customer and fan. Jillian was kind enough to send me this necklace and a bracelet (seen on Instagram, stay tuned for it to be featured here on the blog).  Visit Sweet & Spark to learn more about this great company, shop their collection, and learn how to host a Spark Party and get a 20% commission on pieces you sell at your event!

What I Wore: Certainly Red

Red Print Dress by Triste via Gwynnie Bee free endearment dana clutch in red Red Print Dress by Triste via Gwynnie Bee
Dress: Triste c/o Gwynnie Bee | Bag: ‘Dana’ c/o Free Endearment | Shoes: Nine West | Bracelet: Nordstrom (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Certainly Red’

No matter how carefully I shop, sometimes I am just so sick of everything in my wardrobe. This especially happens at the end of a season when I’m craving different weather and with it different silhouettes. And at these times of the year I am even more glad to have a Gwynnie Bee membership. One of their trademark white boxes arrives at my door and I have the ability to break from my over-worn seasonal wardrobe without spending a ton. And when I tire of the pieces from Gwynnie Bee I can send them back! This dress from Triste comes in a ton of different prints and colors, but I love how this one tricks the eye and creates a bit more of an hourglass shape.

Free Endearment sent me this bag a couple months ago and it’s pretty great. As you see, it’s a nice size and an accordion style so it can hold a ton, plenty of pockets, a magnet closure for security, and a detachable strap. It’s available in a few other colors of leather and right now is on sale. I find my red bags get more use than any other color in my closet because it’s such a perfect accent shade.

What I Wore: Party Time, Excellent

What I Wore: Party Time, Excellent featuring a Dobbin Clothing lace dress, Dagne Dover clutch, and Talbots leopard coat What I Wore: Party Time, Excellent featuring a Dobbin Clothing lace dress, Dagne Dover clutch, and Talbots leopard coat What I Wore: Party Time, Excellent featuring a Dobbin Clothing lace dress, Dagne Dover clutch, and Talbots leopard coat

Dress: c/o Dobbin Clothing | Coat: c/o Talbots (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Bag: c/o Dagne Dover | Bracelet: Nordstrom | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Really Red’

I took a break from the blog over the winter holidays and ended up not capturing some of the great outfits I wore for holiday parties. I wore this dress Christmas Eve and love how it looks so dressy but is so easy and comfortable to wear. Like everything else I have from Dobbin Clothing, this dress fits and flatters my curves so nicely straight out of the box. This is the kind of dress that can be worn all four seasons of the year and all levels of formality with a quick change of accessories.

Review of the Dagne Dover Clutch

I featured this clutch from Dagne Dover in a previous outfit post; this time I added one of the two straps available for the bag. The included short strap makes it easy to slip on the wrist to hold a cocktail or plate of hors d’ourves; there’s also a longer strap available to turn it into a shoulder bag. I had to show the interior of this little clutch, it holds so much! Inside the pockets I have more cards, change for the meter, blotting papers, key, and a couple pieces of gum; everything you need for a night out on the town. Plus, the portion with the cards is held on with a magnet so you can easily remove it, use it like a wallet and switch it to a different bag. Brilliant!

Friday: Three is a Magic Number

Sweater: Belonged to my Mom
Tank: Ann Taylor
Jeans: Gap
Scarf: Collection XIIX (on sale!)
Shoes: Ivanka Trump
Bracelet: Emerson” c/o Kristin Biggs, Stella and Dot
Bag: Vintage Revival c/o Fossil
Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush Begun

I love pattern mixing, but it’s usually just two prints. Wednesday, my mom gave me this sweater – it’s cashmere and a fabulous pumpkin color, but she found it too lightweight for her needs. My mom is shorter than I, and I found the sweater a bit too short for my needs. I wanted to wear a button-front white shirt underneath untucked but my Foxcroft one is in the wash. By chance I tried this striped tank from Ann Taylor and really ended up liking the end result.

And how gorgeous is this bag from Fossil? I love the vintage-inspired style and the Heirloom-variety leather (it’s the type that you can scratch your name in – did anyone else do that to shoes or bags back in school?). I look forward to beating this bag up, because I just know it will get better with time. And if you also like this bag, hang tight for I’m having a giveaway in the next couple of days where one of you will win a Fossil Vintage Revival Handbag!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Jacket – Caslon (similar) | Tank – Ann Taylor (similar) | Necklace – Found at a boutique in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware | SkirtHalogen | Shoes – Payless (similar) | Bag Sabina

It’s raining, it’s pouring… you know you’re a blogaholic when you stand in the rain for your outfit photos! And you know your husband loves you when he stands in the rain to take your blog photos!

I have to give my 50,000th shout-out to the Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis. If I could never buy another eye shadow again, I would be okay if I had this palette. A matte ivory for highlighting, a golden khaki that is a great warm neutral for lids, a deep chocolate for contouring (or use wet as a liner), and then an olive. I buy olive colored clothing just so I can get all matchy-matchy and wear an olive smokey eye with this shadow. Oh, and the color really DOES stay. I will be heading home with just as smokey of an olive eye as I did leaving the house today. Fabulous!

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My Holy Grail Beauty Products

Many moons ago, I was a regular on Makeup Alley. There, members would often talk about their HG, or Holy Grail products. That mascara that dreams were made of, the moisturizer that truly did transform, the hair product that finally made tresses manageable. Many moons ago, I spent a ton of money at Sephora, CVS, and Nordstrom looking for my own personal HGs but rarely gave any product the time needed to truly get to know it. As I have aged, I’ve stopped with the manic shopping for perfection. Lack of time, lack of funds, and lack of thinking such items will be so life-changing. But with that, I’ve used products until I “hit pan” or emptied the tube, I’ve repurchased items if they have served me well, and given products time to really prove if they’re good for me. I’ve also learned that Holy Grail doesn’t mean a product that will change my life, but products that fit me, my lifestyle, my budget, and my personal style.

The other day as I was doing my face, I realized I do have plenty of Holy Grail beauty products. I have a pretty set skincare routine and makeup face, one that gets the job done, feels good, looks good. My HG beauty products:

My Holy Grail Skincare Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Beauty Products for Skincare

  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil – This stuff isn’t cheap, but I have yet to find a cheaper alternative that works quite as well. Garnier is fine, but when I splurge and buy DHC (or get a sample from the BlogHer conference, thank you Rakuten!) I realize there is no comparison. This product gets my skin clean, takes off all makeup (even that kohl that seems to reappear five minutes after cleansing and then again in the morning), leaves my skin feeling softer than before cleansing, never causes breakouts, and when I use it, the next morning my skin looks phenomenal – hydrated, plump, soft, even, dare I say younger? I’ve used off and on for five years and have wasted so much money trying to find a cheaper alternative.
  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – I keep this in the shower as cleansing oil doesn’t work well in such a situation. This also does a great job of removing everything from my face without stripping it, though I sometimes need to do a second wash if I wore any primers or setting sprays. I like using this with my Clarisonic. It’s cheap, it doesn’t dry me out, no breakouts, not too harsh but effective. However, if I only use this and don’t switch every so often my skin does start to dry a bit. The best combination is me using DHC most nights and a wash with CeraVe and my Clarisonic in the shower 2-3 times a week.
  • Clarisonic Mia – I’ve gone through periods where I don’t use this, and times when I’ve used it daily. Over time I have found that my skin benefits from using it, but not too often. I like it best in the shower; I’ll do a quick wash with CeraVe especially if I’ve used primers and setting sprays, then do a second cleansing with CeraVe and the Clarisonic. It makes my pores appear to be smaller, makes my skin glow (and true glow, not scratched irritated red), and really gives me a deep clean. I buy replacement brush heads on eBay from well-rated sellers and always make sure to have an extra one in the linen closet for replacement.
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense – I’ve now purchased this product six times, I love it that much. I have tried other serums, and they don’t compare – too greasy, ineffective, irritating. I still don’t know exactly what Youth Code does to improve my skin, but when I use it, my skin is happy. It’s a very light serum that absorbs quickly and plays nice with moisturizers. It makes my skin glow a bit, pores seem reduced, skin feels hydrated but never greasy. I use it morning and night under my moisturizer.
  • Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel – I’ve used this for over a decade and nothing else compares. I don’t wash my face in the morning, I just wipe it with this witch hazel. It smells nice, it leaves my skin feeling clean yet soft, and the price is very nice. Also feels good on a sweaty gross day; I’ll wipe down my neck, cleavage, behind my ears and feel refreshed.
  • Reusable Cotton Rounds – I am still using the same set I featured in this post, and they only get softer and more absorbent with washings. I store the rounds in an oversized mason jar (so hipster… well actually it fits nicely in my medicine cabinet), and I have a mesh bag hanging off the bathroom door and put the used rounds in there. Zip it up when I’m down to just a few clean rounds and throw in the next load of laundry. Wash and dry in the bag, and shove back in the mason jar. I use these for anything that needs a cotton round or ball except polish remover. Better for the environment, and better for your wallet!

My Holy Grail Makeup Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Makeup Beauty Products

  • Revlon ColorStay Makeup – I’ve used both formulas of this product; since turning 40 I switched to the Normal/Dry version (my color is Fresh Beige) and I find it has as much staying power as the oil-free version. The color looks natural on me, it blends well, doesn’t cause breakouts or get weird around my eyes and you can’t beat the price! Best of all… it lasts. It lasts through crying, through humid DC days, through dancing and sweating at a concert, and I can put it on at 6am before heading to the office and still have a set face at 7pm for an after-work event.
  • Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic – This stuff is amazing, and many of you have purchased it after I reviewed it and agree. It’s that perfect soft red that looks good on most every one. It’s not a lipstick, not a balm, not a stain but a combo of them all that can be applied without a mirror, be layered without being sticky or gross, and it has a bit of a menthol feel to soothe dry lips. I feel like Snow White when I wear it.  I have Romantic in my purse, Romantic in my desk, and Romantic in my dressing table at all times.
  • NARS Blush in Orgasm – I’ve been using this blush for over a decade. It has a bit of shimmer, but it’s subtle and only gives my skin a bit of a dewy finish. The coral color looks natural, but isn’t too orange to clash with cool-toned lipcolors and outfits. I have a couple other blushes in my makeup drawer for different looks but I always come back to Orgasm.
  • Maybelline Stiletto Liner in Brownish Black – I have contacts, allergies, and rub my eyes often. Pencil liners always end up a mess on me, and as I have gotten older I’ve found glossy black liquid liner looks too harsh.  I went through a ton of liquid liners from department stores, Sephora, and yes Makeup Alley-highly rated liners and none really wowed me.  I tried Line Stiletto by chance and became a loyal user for many years. It’s a felt tip that is flexible enough adjust the width of the line and get in that tiny area next to the lash line. It holds up through rubbing and sweating and tears and all that jazz, you can reapply over it later in the day if you want a darker or thicker line, yet it washes away easily at the end of the day. I keep one in my purse and one in my dressing table; I replace every three months.
  • e.l.f. Makeup Mist and Set – This is by far the best makeup setting spray I have tried. A combination of this and the Revlon ColorStay and my face can last for 24 hours even in high heat and humidity. Unlike other setting sprays and primers, I never get breakouts or clogged pores from this spray. And it doesn’t hurt that a bottle is under $5.00!

My Holy Grail Haircare Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Haircare Beauty Products

  • Rusk Thick – While I have a lot of hair, it’s relatively thin. A few spritzes of Rusk Thick before blowdrying gives me lift and body without it feeling as though I added anything to my hair. I keep trying different products and they’re always… fine. But Thick gets the job done without making my hair feel gross or look gross on Day 2. I’m on my third bottle in the past few years and I’ve learned to not waste my money on other products and stick with what works.
  • Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – I raved about it in this post and I still adore it. I like messy rocker hair, and it helps me get that. I sometimes like full loose curls and it helps me get that. And when I am on Day 2 or 3 and want it to look purposeful and not greasy or limp, it helps me get that too.
  • Clairol Natural Instincts in 20 Hazelnut – While my stylist can give me the best color with depth, dimension and multi colors that look more natural and shiny, I’ll use Natural Instincts Hazelnut between sessions to cover gray and when my haircolor fades. It’s a bit darker than my natural brown, but I like that. I also like that this is a cool brown, not auburn or golden. It’s not the best on grays, but it’s a good in-between sessions color that isn’t completely permanent and doesn’t dry out or fry my hair.

My Holy Grail Body Care and Fragrance Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Body Care Fragrance Beauty Products

  • Neutrogena Body Oil – I love the smell, I love how it makes my skin look dewey and silky, and I love the ritual of applying it in a steamy bathroom post-shower. I tire of fragrances quickly, but not Neutrogena Body Oil. When I was pregnant it was one of the few scents that didn’t bother me; Karl would use it as a massage oil when my back bothered me and when I feel stressed I’ll take a bath and add some to the water for the aromatherapy as well as the moisturizing properties. Heads up, don’t waste your money on drugstore versions; they don’t smell the same. At ALLLLLLL.
  • Body Shop Coconut Body Butter – This stuff takes scaly alligator winter skin and makes it soft, silky, and happy. It’s great on sunburned, irritated, or sensitive skin; slather your feet in it before bed and put on socks and wake up with lovely tootsies. I’ve been using it since I worked for the company as a trainer 15 years ago.  I buy the jumbo tubs now and one lasts me almost a year.
  • Burberry London Eau de Parfum – I always wanted a signature fragrance, it seemed so feminine and elegant and stylish. This is not the fragrance I would have thought would be “the one” but for almost a decade it continues to be a scent I love and never tire of.  I wrote more about Burberry London EDP in this post.
  • OPI Nail Color in Big Apple Red – When summer comes I like to switch up and do the occasional fun color (right now wearing OPI’s Stop for Red), but Big Apple Red for two years has been my signature color. I don’t tire of it, it’s the perfect red that’s not too flashy, too mature, doesn’t look bad on my pale skin, and it’s a color that stops strangers on the street to compliment and ask the brand and name.
  • CertainDri – I’m a sweaty gal, and have tried dozens of natural, clinical, men’s, women’s, unisex, fancy, basic, and all kinds of deodorants but they all miss the boat (and usually leave me smelling like B.O. plus chemicals or B.O. plus baby powder or lavender).  CertainDri continues to be the one product that leaves me smelling just like skin.  If you used in the past and found it drippy and irritating, the formula has been updated and improved.  I swipe it on at night and then in the morning use a regular deodorant (usually Dove because it’s gentle, relatively effective, and the smell doesn’t make me want to hurl).

Now it’s your turn to share. Do you have any Holy Grail beauty products? Your favorite may be the one thing we’re missing in our lives, let us know what you love in the comments!


What I Wore: Tiger’s Roar

tiana b dress review hsn dagne dover clutch review hsn tiana be dress review
Dress: Tiana B. Printed T-Shirt Dress c/o HSN | Bag: c/o Dagne Dover | Tights: Spanx | Shoes: ALDO “Spelonca” Stacked-Heel Leather Wedge c/o HSN | Bracelets: Rebecca Minkoff (similar) Nordstrom (similar), Bauble Bar | Lipstick: Revlon Matte ‘Really Red’

This is my second outfit partnership with HSN, and a second time for me to be utterly impressed by them.  The selection of brands in their Spring Fashion Collection, The Fashion Edit, are awesome. Vince Camuto, Sam Edelman, Kelly Osbourne, IMAN, and June Ambrose just to name a few. This dress from Tiana B. is part of the collection, and it’s that perfect stretchy fabric that isn’t shiny or clingy. It’s made for travel because it doesn’t wrinkle and can dress up or down with ease.  I chose this tiger print, but it also comes in a pretty blue floral.  Since it’s still cold I paired it with opaque tights and closed-toe shoes but come spring I could see myself pairing it with a denim jacket and tan sandals.  I hadn’t heard of the brand Tiana B. before but have become a fan; all pieces are from easy-care materials, plus sizes are available, and the line is manufactured in the USA.

I adore these shoes from ALDO via HSN; they’re surprisingly comfortable for the height; I wore them to work two days this past week and was able to dash across streets and stand for long spans of time.  The zipper detail on the back is a nice touch; I like them so much I am seriously also considering them in the cognac color.

This post is sponsored by HSN.  While I was compensated for it, everything I wrote is my own opinion.

What I Wore: Suit Up

wo2 7 wo2 3 alison gary wo2 2 wo2 4
Jacket: LOFT (similar) | Top: ELOQUII via Gwynnie Bee | Belt: Lauren Ralph Lauren (similar) | Pants: LOFT (similar) | Shoes: Nine West | Bag: HOBO (similar) | Bracelet: Had forever (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon in ‘In the Red’

With the change in my company and role over the years, I have fewer and fewer needs for a proper suit. However I can’t stress the importance of still having one for those unexpected moments – an interview, client meeting, conference, business workshop… the pieces can be used separately increasing the price per wear. I purchased this jacket over a year ago from LOFT (last seen on the blog here) and figured it would match black pants from LOFT that I already owned.  Notsomuch, the jacket was a refined twill with a sateen “tux” detail while the rest of my LOFT suiting was more like gabardine.  Then I found these pants on clearance at LOFT this past fall; I think they were meant to be with this jacket!  With the same tux-details and trim as the jacket and the same fabric I have made a match; though it took over a year it also cost less than $100!

I haven’t shared Gwynnie Bee on the blog lately, but that doesn’t mean I am not still a subscriber AND fan!  With the colder weather, I’ve been choosing more casual pieces from Gwynnie Bee; ways to maintain style even when bundled up.  But I saw this ELOQUII top in their collection and had to try it.  As a cusp-sized woman I find ELOQUII to be a hair too big; I sometimes have success with tops and dresses but sometimes find them a hair big for my 5’3″ self.  This top was a bit loose, but adding a belt cinched it and gave it a subtle peplum look that worked with the ruffles at the shoulders and hem.  The top is from a scuba fabric that is uber comfy and doesn’t cling.  I’m a huge fan of ELOQUII and am glad that Gwynnie Bee features them and other hot cusp and plus sized brands!  Gwynnie Bee is offering a 30-day free trial of their program; if you’re size 10 or up it’s worth a try.  I love that for the price of one item I can get three pieces each month in current trends and try out brands I may not otherwise be able to afford.  Click this link to learn more!

I wore this look last Thursday; my dear friend Rosana of DC Style Factory had an event, Skirting the Issue, at Betsy Fisher, where she educated the audience on what skirt was best for each figure and lifestyle need and then had custom fitting by Betsy Garcete at Zophia and personal styling by Rosana and her team.  It was a really fun evening; if you’re in the DC area I can’t recommend DC Style Factory enough for personal styling, closet cleanouts, shopping support and helping you find your personal style.  I’ve recommended DC Style Factory to many Wardrobe Oxygen readers and they have all reported back with rave reviews.  Be sure to follow DC Style Factory on Facebook to learn when they have their next training seminar; I know I’ll be at that one too!

Shop the Looks Featured in this Post:

This is 40: My Winter Skincare and Beauty Routine

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This is what 40 looks like… and my skincare routine mentioned below after a couple hours of wear and no touch-ups. Mascara, liner, a bit of matte taupe shadow and Revlon BalmStain in Romantic.

After I shared a selfie last week on social media, I received a bunch of questions asking how I take care of my skin. I’ll admit I get tempted by new and shiny products and reviews on blogs, but I’m trying to stick to my current routine because it works, and for the first time in years my winter skin is happy and hydrated.

Night Skincare Routine:

  • Garnier Clean + Nourishing Cleansing Oil – I use this almost every evening. Two pumps in dry hands, rub on dry skin, and then rinse off. Okay, you don’t “just rinse;” rinsing isn’t that easy and you will be left with what feels like a film of oil on your skin. Trust me, this isn’t a bad thing. Unlike other drugstore-brand oil cleansers, Garnier doesn’t clog my pores and it does remove all my makeup, even mascara and liquid liner. I emulsify and rinse with tepid and blot (don’t rub) my skin dry.
  • CeraVe Cleanser (Normal to Dry) – I use this from time to time, just to switch things up. I’ve used it for years and like how it’s budget friendly, gentle, and cleans thoroughly without stripping. Once or twice a month and after a day where I wore hardcore makeup, I’ll use it with my Clarisonic, and then follow up with the Garnier oil cleanser.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream – I keep trying other brands, get disappointment, and return to this product. No irritation, absorbs nicely, makes the skin feel soft and I think helps with wrinkles and dry skin.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum – Again, I try other products and come back to this one. It works, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and it doesn’t make my skin angry. I apply this after the eye cream to my entire face, neck, chest, and the top of both hands.
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads – I don’t use these as often as I did in the fall and early winter because the rest of my body has gotten so pale it looks fake. But I do it sometimes if I have an event to go to, I’ll use in place of the Neutrogena serum. I wear a dark bra, and wipe it on my face, neck, and chest inside the lines of the bra for an even finish. Then I take the almost-dry pad and wipe down my arms and tops of my hands to give a touch of color and then wash my hands.
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Youth Regenerating Skincare Serum – I’ve written about this many times before. I’ve tried other serums and they don’t compare. I can’t clearly explain what this does but it makes my skin happy. Two pumps, on face, neck, a bit on chest and leftover on tops of hands.
  • L’Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler Cream – This is a day/night cream but it hydrates nicely without being greasy or clogging pores. I find the heavier night creams cause breakouts and this doesn’t but it still keeps me from cracking or getting red and miserable in cold weather. And how can you resist a decent cream under $10? I run on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.
  • Random Hippie Clove and Vitamin E Cream – I got this at a local shop made by a local artisan not online. But it’s a cream made with Vitamin E, cocoa butter, clove oil, and has a consistency that’s a mix between Chapstick and Vaseline. I rub it on my lips and sometimes I rub it under my nose if it’s red and raw, and I rub more on my hands and around my cuticles.
  • Water – I have a Kleen Kanteen next to my bed. I fill up, drink half, refill, and then sip on it while I read before bed and at times when I wake up. Water is a necessity to happy skin.

Morning Skincare Routine:

  • Water – I finish the Kleen Kanteen before I do anything else. Water, water, water and then more water!
  • Fish Oil – I take one Fish Oil pill first thing in the morning, and another when I get home from work. I often deal with dandruff and psoriasis in winter; taking these help greatly and make my skin and hair look better too. These don’t make me burp salmon; they’re big but I don’t have any trouble swallowing them.
  • Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel – I’ve used this for years. I apply it with a reusable cotton round. It’s way more gentle than traditional witch hazel, and smells great too! This is all I use to cleanse my skin in the morning.
  • Neutrogena Eye Cream – Same eye cream from the evening
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Serum – Same serum from the evening
  • L’Oreal Revitalift Day Moisturizer SPF 30 – This is the first time using it but my winter skin really likes it. It’s far too heavy and greasy for the summer, but right now my skin sucks it up and it leaves a dewy finish that works well with foundation for a nice healthy day look. I rub on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.

My Basic Makeup Routine:

  • L’Oreal True Match Concealer – I don’t love this, but it gets the job done. I like how lightweight and creamy it is because it doesn’t crease or look weird over my fine lines and creases. I dot under eyes, under the nose, around the mouth and on any zits. Then I tap, not rub until it’s blended but still visible. I use Fair Light Warm, the warmer color balances my dark circles better.
  • Revlon ColorStay Foundation for Normal/Dry Skin and Jojoba Oil – I put the tiniest dot of jojoba oil into my palm, then add foundation and mix. I then apply with my fingers. The jojoba oil was an idea I got from my beauty guru friend Sarah and it gives a dewy finish without causing the makeup to slip away throughout the day. For the foundation, right now I’m using Fresh Beige.
  • Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder – I sprinkle a bit of this in its cap, and use the MAC 190 foundation brush (much softer than others I have used yet still has a precision edge) and apply it under my eyes, between the brows, and under the nose. If I want a very finished look I’ll apply some elsewhere – the forehead, the chin, over the lips (helps lipstick stay). I don’t have to work hard to blend, and it doesn’t leave a powdery or overly matte finish. The yellow tone really helps to cancel out my dark circles and redness under the nose.
  • NARS ‘Orgasm’ Blush – I am not committed to this blush. When I turned 30 I bought this blush for the first time. A couple years ago I decided it was too warm and too sparkly and switched to creams, to pinks, to all sorts of things. But this winter I am embracing my paleness, and liking a dewy face, and the subtle shimmer and peachy glow of ‘Orgasm’ feels right again. I apply with a fluffy blush brush (not sure the brand, it wore off the black handle), smiling and applying just below apples of my cheeks and up towards my temples. A very tiny pat on the top of the nose and one on the chin.
  • TheBalm Mary-Lou Manzier – A reader told me about this product and I have been a fan ever since. Thanks to a six-year-old who finds my dressing table utterly fascinating, this compact fell on the floor and the product crumbled. So now I shake the compact, carefully open, and tap my finger on the mirror to get the right amount of product. A swipe on each cheek bone, a dot at the inner corners of my eye, a tiny bit below the brows (VERY tiny bit) and a bit at the bow of my lip. This gives a very natural highlight that just looks like healthy skin.
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse – It comes with a brush but I prefer to apply it with my Trish McEvoy brow brush because it’s shorter and stiffer and I have more control and it doesn’t look like I put liquid liner in my eyebrows. Dash dash dash from center to arch, then draw the end. I then go back and dash dash to fill in, and then use a brush to brush the hairs up, then in an arch. I wear Rich Brown.

The rest really varies on my mood. Sometimes I wear shadow (and don’t have any I really love and swear by right now), sometimes I don’t. I have mascaras for thick drag queen lashes, waterproof mascaras, lengthening mascaras. I do always curl first (I use Kevyn Aucoin’s lash curler), it makes a difference. And if I wear liner, it’s Maybelline Line Stiletto in Brownish Black; it’s not too shiny or black for day, it can do a very thin precise line right at the lashline, or get bigger for a cat eye. Mucho love for it. And as you know from my outfit posts, I switch up my lips all the time.

I’d love to hear from you as to what your favorite skincare and beauty products are. Some of my favorite products are recommendations from readers and your Holy Grail may be a HG product for me or another reader!

What I Wore: Middle of the Road

Wardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Emploi New York Lexington Long DressWardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Emploi New York Lexington Long DressWardrobe Oxygen: Dagne Dover Python ClutchWardrobe Oxygen What I Wore: Emploi New York Lexington Long Dress
Dress: Lexington Long Dress c/o emploi New York | Bracelet: CC Skye via MYHABIT | Bag: Limited Edition Clutch-Wallet c/o Dagne Dover | Shoes: Nine West ‘Flax’ | Lipstick: Revlon ‘Really Red’

If you recall, I partnered with emploi New York in the past with an uber flattering jersey dress; well this dress is from their latest collection.  In a color that is surprisingly flattering on my winter fair skin and a ponte fabric that is comfortable and warmer than many knits, this is a great “desk to drinks” dress that could easily dress up for the holiday season.  Being 5’3″ I immediately felt I had to take this dress (and most clothes I buy) to the tailor to shorten the hem, but I decided to leave it as-is for variety in my closet and a more winter-friendly length.  When it gets colder I will be wearing it with tights and tall boots to the office.  I love how emploi creates truly wearable clothing for the professional woman; fashion that is on trend but still appropriate for the boardroom.

Well emploi has expanded to include jewelry! emploi New York has partnered with RAGEN Jewels for a gorgeous jewelry collection. It’s an artisanal collection with only a few pieces of each style available. There’s statement pieces like the Angel Wing Pave Earrings and then delicate everyday looks like the adorable Wish Bone Necklace.  I can’t wait to see what else emploi has in store for the New Year!

Lazy Tux

Blazer: The Limited (similar) | Tee: Old Navy | Ascot: Belonged to my Dad | Silk Bracelet: c/o lifetherapy | Boots: DUO (similar) | Jeans: NYDJ | Lipstick: Revlon Matte in “Really Red”

I prefer rain to blustery cold days, especially in April. April showers bring May flowers, right? It rained all night and was still gloomy and wet when I left for work so I wore boots to be on the safe side.

Still playing with this hair, today is Day 2, I curled large sections with a standard curling iron, angling away from the face. Finger combed, then added Jonathan Silky Dirt for a piecey/Mandana from Rachel Zoe Project sort of look. The bangs are still wrong, I need to make an appointment with my stylist to fix this cut, but I just have not had the time. Even this weekend is booked solid but I need to figure it out before I go on a 2am hacking spree with my cuticle scissors!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, thank you so much for all your support, emails, comments, and tweets this past week. I blog because I love it, and because I love all of you. I love connecting with you, knowing my writing benefits you, and making new friends through technology. I seriously adore all of you and am so incredibly grateful to have you in my life!

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Best of 2014: Beauty Edition

I tried a lot of different beauty products this year. Working a good portion of 2014 with one hand (and it being my non-dominant one), it forced me to switch up my beauty routine. I also had a decision to stop trying to look young. While I still baby my skin and use products to prevent wrinkles and discoloration, I allowed myself to enjoy makeup trends that may not be the most youthful. I’m not ashamed of my age, and don’t want to miss out on fun trends and techniques that better fit my personal style because I’m trying to look younger than my driver’s license. Speaking of age, maybe it’s being 39 or maybe it’s the toll 2014 has taken on me but I feel my skin and hair has aged dramatically this year and that too affected the products I’ve chosen and ended up loving. So without further ado, the best beauty purchases I made this year:

best beauty buys 2014

Garnier Fructis Texture Tease Spray

I don’t like polished hair. More than once I have gone to my stylist with a picture of Fearne Cotton in my hands. I like that slightly rocker/just had sex tousled look but my hair is too fine, too slippery, too curly in places and too smooth in others to really make it work. I’ve tried all sorts of products to make hair look dirty and it just makes my hair look… dirty. I saw this video on Tammy’s blog A Loyal Love and decided to give Garnier’s Texture Tease a try. The pricepoint is low enough that if it’s a fail I won’t have too much buyer’s remorse. Well no remorse, I LOVE this stuff. It makes my hair look messy and dirty but in a sexy way, not an unshowered way. I can still manipulate my hair and it doesn’t look ashy on my dark tresses. I can’t make it work Day 2, it gets really gummy, but it’s still a favorite when I want to make next-day hair look purposeful or have a bedhead look.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

I raved about the whipped version last year, well this summer I got the combo/oily skin version and it’s my jam, even more so than the hydrating version. I wrote about it here, but it deserves more rave.  It’s a touch thinner in consistency which I think gives a more natural feel. I also find the colors to be slightly warmer in the oil free version, better matching my skintone. This stuff stays put all day, through crying and sweat and allergies and rain.

TIGI Bed Head After Party Smoothing Cream

This product is great for smoothing the ends of my hair. When I curl my hair it can look a bit Shirley Temple; if I gently brush it out with a wood-bristle brush (love this one), it makes it natural eaves but the ends (especially when I’m in need of a trim) can get fuzzy. I put a tiny amount, smaller than a pea on my finger and rub it on my finger tips and grab each curl and smooth it. This will separate the curls without making them look greasy and helps them keep their shape. I also like it on the ends of my hair when I style it straight; it keeps humidity and frizz at bay and adds a touch of weight to keep the look polished.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pads

I wrote about these here, but I don’t think I properly explained the awesomeness of these little pads. I was reading Man Repeller this early fall and she made a comment about how her dark circles were more prominent which meant her summer tan was fading. It was an aha moment and I realized I looked so exhausted because my tan had faded, making my lifelong undereye circles stand out. So I used one of these pads that night and the next morning I looked well rested for the first time in weeks. Not only that, when I use these pads, my skin is happy and it seems to clear up the little bumps I get on my chin. I don’t use these more than twice a week or else I look like a Real Housewife; I usually use them on a Friday night so the change in skintone isn’t as obvious to coworkers, and then another used on Monday night will keep the glow going with a subtle fade through the days. I use one pad, I do my face, being sure to swipe up into my hairline and over my ears, then get my neck, and do the whole décolleté using my bra straps and cups as a template. I then take the pretty-much dry pad at this point and do quick swipes over my hands and forearms. Then I wash my hands very well, apply my regular eye and night cream and go to bed. I don’t look fake, I don’t get streaks, and my skin is happier for it. Heads up, you can get 50-packs of these pads on Amazon for much cheaper than other sites; if you shop at Beauty.com (which I love because great GWPs and free shipping and cash back on future orders and combo your order with Drugstore.com) you can often get one of these pads as a free sample at checkout if you’d like to try before you buy.

OGX Coconut Water Conditioner

Another item I have already raved about. This was the only product I used to cleanse my hair until about mid-October when the weather finally went cold and my hair went from full and wavy to limp and straight. Still, I use this as an actual conditioner on my ends and Karl uses it as the sole cleanser on his hair. Great price, great smell, look forward to using it again as my main hair cleanser this coming summer!

e.l.f. Studio Mist and Set

I raved about this before but it really is a phenomenal setting spray for your makeup and the price can’t be beat. I received a similar spray from MaryKay during a partnership with them and while their setting spray works, smells better and has a finer mist and better quality bottle, it doesn’t compare to e.l.f.’s in regard to holding makeup in place through EVERYTHING. I keep the MaryKay for the work week and e.l.f for long days, nights out, and the summer heat and humidity.

Revlon LacquerBalm in Enticing

Revlon’s Just Bitten BalmStain in Romantic has been my go-to for quite a while, and I regularly use many other colors and consistencies of these chubby lip crayons from Revlon. But none held my heart like Romantic did… until Enticing. Enticing is a more intense, higher pigment red with a glossy finish. I like it alone for a more polished version of bitten lips – red, glossy, but not too perfect. However it is an awesome product layered over a matte lipstick or stain. I love the Revlon matte lipsticks and will wear Enticing over them to increase the pigment and add shine without losing longevity; Enticing will wear away gently and naturally leaving the lipstick below and preventing a ring around the lips or completely bare lips come the end of lunch.  You can see this combo when I was featured at Style IT.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse

I wrote about this product here, and it is still my favorite brow product. I no longer use the brush that came with it, feeling that it gave too harsh and obvious a line; I now use my Trish McEvoy 32 Eyebrow Brush because it has shorter, stiffer bristles letting me get in color without a harsh obvious line. This color stays put until I wash it off with soap and it looks very natural.

Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder

Yep, I tried the contouring trend that was hot this year. I didn’t want to look like Kim Kardashian or someone from the ‘80s, but wanted to try a more subtle version. Everyone had been raving about this powder and I found it new on eBay and decided to try it (you can also find it on Amazon). I watched a couple YouTube videos and did contouring… and looked ridiculous. Completely lovely for a photo, but insane IRL. However, I really came to like the Banana powder. On a normal day, I apply foundation and then use this over the foundation under the eyes and it diminishes puffiness and darkness without looking cakey or false, and I think it does a better job than concealer. I apply it with the MaryKay Liquid Foundation brush because I had it and it was clean when the powder arrived in the mail. And I continue to apply it in that manner because the brush is soft and fits under my lower lashes nicely while blending the powder beautifully.

So I’d like to hear from you, what were your best beauty buys of the year?

Bat for Lashes

Tux jacket: Ann Taylor (similar) | Tee: Lulu Guinness for Uniqlo via eBay | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Ivanka Trump | Glasses: Derek Cardigan 7003 c/o Coastal.com | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Bracelets: c/o Lifetherapy, Nordstrom (similar) | Ring: Argento Vivo (similar) | Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balmstain in Lovesick

Darn you, Pinterest!  I saw this tee shirt pinned several weeks ago and I just HAD to have it!  I couldn’t find it available in the US, so I went to eBay and was able to score one, tags still on it and even shipped in a Uniqlo bag with the receipt.  I’m not one who goes gaga for designer collaborations and it’s not like I am some mega Lulu Guinness fan, but I just thought this shirt was too cute.  The sleeves are more like cap sleeves with a cuffed edge, which makes it dressier than your average tee shirt.  I can’t wait to wear this shirt come fall with my black leather midi skirt!

And these shoes are my first non-sandal shoes worn for more than 15 minutes since the leg drama.  I was even able to wear them comfortably when walking a few blocks from my favorite parking garage.  Before I hurt my leg, I would purposefully park a few blocks from the office because it’s easier to get out of the city, but also because it forces me to walk each day.  I’ve missed that part of my daily routine and just was able to add it back in this week.  And to finish the week with my favorite low-heeled pumps?  Pretty fantastic!

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