Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Defining Beauty

This piece originally appeared in a recent edition of CosmoBiz Salon, a print publication I write each month for. I thought I'd share it here, too.


I had this idea for an article. It would be easy. I just needed to ask women an age-old question: “What makes you feel beautiful?”

Such a simple concept. What I found, though, is that many women struggled to answer what seems like a benign enough question.  

I then asked myself what makes me feel beautiful and I sat here looking at my laptop screen without an answer. My mind instantly moved to things about myself that don’t make me feel beautiful: the freckles on my face, the pesky lines around my mouth, and the fact that the back of my thighs are a wee bit more squishy than I would like. I was disappointed and surprised to feel this way about myself.

One of the women I spoke to answered the question I posed to her by saying, “I honestly can say I've never really felt beautiful. Pretty, yes. Beautiful, not so much. I can do my hair and makeup and still feel just okay about myself. Low self esteem and no confidence really sucks. I'm pretty good at pretending though.”

She was not alone in her response.

Mirriam-Webster defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit .”

I pondered the question some more. I have worked in the beauty industry for many years. I am surrounded by beautiful people, beautiful packaging, beautiful surroundings and beautiful products that work magic. And I can’t help but be haunted by the ugly reality of how women speak to themselves. Their inner dialogue often became their outer words when I was applying their makeup:

  • “I look so old. I wish I looked younger.”
  • “I hate my skin.”
  • “Can you make my face slimmer?”
  • “I wish I could get plastic surgery.”
  • “If only my nose weren’t so big.”
  • “I used to be beautiful -- years ago.”

The most rewarding part of my job over the years was for women to look in the mirror after getting their makeup done and smiling. Knowing that some strategically applied highlighter or a quick wash of color can completely help women see themselves in a new light -- when they were already beautiful to begin with -- is humbling. Sadly, that feeling of “I look beautiful!” tends to be fleeting.

The hardest part, truthfully, is knowing that women can be so hard on themselves. Instead of looking in the mirror and feeling beautiful, we sometimes look and only see what we view as our flaws. We say “I wish I look like I did when I was 22” instead of “I am 40 years old and my husband still can’t keep his hands off me.”

Why is that? I wanted to look deeper and I decided to interview an expert. Peggy Derivan, MS, founder of Discoveries Counseling, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC) in western New York. She tells me that this happens to be one of the most important topics in her practice.

Derivan describes a common scenario with teen girls and women: ”Even when they are told by others that they are, in fact, beautiful, they often don't believe it about themselves. Being beautiful and feeling beautiful are two different experiences. Feeling beautiful is actually connected to feelings of self-worth.”

This absolutely makes sense. This is what I used to see in my makeup chair day in and day out -- women who often didn’t think they deserved a compliment or to hear, “You have stunning cheekbones” or “Your blue eyes really pop!”

Let’s work on this. Every single woman is beautiful in her own way and, more importantly, deserves to feel beautiful.

On an encouraging note, I had several women who answered my question right away. This confidence was truly refreshing -- and I found it to be empowering. So what makes women from all across the USA feel beautiful? Here are some of the responses:

Amy: “You would be surprised the difference lipstick or a colored lip gloss, eye liner and mascara will do for you face. No expert make up application techniques needed and takes less than 5 minutes. I feel like I stand a little taller when I wear lipstick.”

Becky: Getting my eyebrows done and taking time to "do" my hair--blow dry, straighten, products. Makeup wise, eye liner makes a big difference for me.”

Christina: “A cute pair of heels and a smile -- and maybe a great mascara and lip gloss.”
Stephanie:A tan! I know that shouldn't be the answer, but it feels so good!”

Chantel: “Throw away ALL your ratty underwear. I kid you not! I am not talking about going out and spending a fortune at some fancy lingerie shop--just something not faded  or with worn out elastic. Your confidence and attitude can go A LOT higher when you are wearing something pretty under your clothes.”

Jennifer: “For me, what makes me feel the most beautiful has nothing to do with clothes, hair or makeup. It's me coming downstairs and having one of my girls say I look nice. Or my husband grabbing my hand out of the blue or really laughing at something I say. Or even just that quick second head look from him when I've taken an extra minute with my appearance. There are so many things.... If I had to pick something I would say getting my nails done. I love getting a really good mani/pedi. Pretty flip flops and painted toes is just an awesome feeling for me “

How can we get more women to feel beautiful? Derivan says, “Our culture has miles to go when helping women believe they are worthy, important, and deserving of such a designation as beautiful.  When I work with ladies and they begin to value their worth, they also start to see their beauty.  It's funny - we might think that knowing our beauty would help with our worth, but it really works the other way around.”

Small steps, folks. We can get there. You are beautiful. Each of you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Make Your Own Pumpkin Face Mask

The skin benefits of pumpkin are abundant. Today, we're making a fabulous powdered face mask. Powder is used here for two reasons: 1. So you can have a long-lasting mask "base" to use without needing a preservative and 2. So you can add whatever ingredients to the mask you'd like, whether it be Greek yogurt, rosewater, aloe juice, etc.

Why Pumpkin?
  • Pumpkin contains an abundance of anti-aging Vitamin A and antioxidant Vitamin C to promote collagen production. As we age, collagen in the skin breaks down, resulting in a loss of firmness and elasticity. Applying products with pumpkin may improve the look of lines and wrinkles and help ward off skin aging.
  • Pumpkin also contains carotenoids, helpful in the anti-aging process. Alpha-carotene, which is abundant in pumpkin, is believed to slow biological aging. Anecdotal evidence suggests the same may be true for its impact on the skin.
  • Pumpkin is also rich in natural fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids, which help to gently exfoliate the skin. The enzymes boost cell turnover and work to shed dead skin cells, revealing a more radiant, glowing complexion. 
  • Beta-carotene in pumpkin helps maintain the look of healthy skin. In fact, it is essential for overall skin health. If you are one of the many people out there who suffers from Melasma, the beta-carotene in pumpkin may help treat the areas of hyperpigmentation by gradually and gently lightening them.

When I had my skin care business (which was featured by Martha Stewart in one of her magazines in 2008), I made a dry mask called the Pink Pumpkin Mask that was really lovely for dry, mature, and delicate skin types. 

Today we're going to make that same recipe. Here it is, beauties!

Pumpkin accounts for over half of this mask. Added to this are Pink Kaolin Clay, Buttermilk Powder, Honey Powder and pure Lavender Essential Oil.

This is an all-natural dry mask. It will help your skin achieve a glow and youthful radiance, naturally.

What do the ingredients in this mask do?

  • Pumpkin soothes, hydrates and protects the skin with its abundance of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, alpha-carotene, zinc, beta carotene, and lutein.
  • Honey is known for its anti-bacterial properties. It can help to treat and prevent acne, while still having the ability to moisturize the skin.
  • Buttermilk is high in emollients and natural fats from the milk. It helps to cleanse and soothe at the same time.
  • Pink Kaolin Clay is the gentlest of clays. It will not dehydrate the skin, nor will it draw out oils and strip the skin. It acts as a very gentle exfoliant and helps to boost skin circulation without the redness associated with other kaolin varieties.
  • Lavender is always a favorite of mine for its ability to be so calming and soothing to sensitive and irritated skin, while being effective at clearing up acne. I purchase all of my essential oils these days at Plant Therapy. The quality is stellar. I am often asked about the popular direct sales oil companies such as Young Living. I cannot in good conscience recommend these oils.

To Make:

For the proportions, use 50-60% pumpkin powder. The other powders/clays can be split equally to make up the remaining 40-50%. Then add in 10 drops of essential oil. Store in a jar or even a Ziploc bag.


You will only need a very small amount of the powder, which you may dilute with water, buttermilk, cream, milk, rosewater, or aloe vera juice.

Apply to the skin which has been already been cleansed and rinsed with tepid water.

Leave on your skin for about 10 minutes.

Rinse off thoroughly with warm water. Follow with your favorite toner and moisturizer. I do this at night and I use my cleanser, homemade mask, Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion, and Decleor Aromaessence Neroli Night Balm.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Boxwalla: A Splendid Subscription Box!

Forget about Ipsy and Birchbox. There's a new subscription box in town called Boxwalla, and it blows its competition out of the water. I really should not even be saying "competition" here, as this is something completely outside the box (pun intended).

Boxwalla is the brainchild of a woman named Lavanya, a long-time reader of The Beauty Blogger.

A little bit of info:

Boxwalla is unique. This bi-monthly subscription service is available in four different categories: Beauty, Food, Book, and Film. Stick with beauty -- or be adventurous and switch it up a bit. I will be frank. I am not a huge fan of subscription services because I only use 1 or 2 of the items. Most of the items are tossed in the box and will only work for a few people. Boxwalla is different. You can tell that the selection process has been a true labor of love and that great consideration has been taken while curating the box.

Here is my box:

Here is what the Winter Evenings (December) box came with:

Lilikoi Living Bamboo Buff Face Wash-- I am using this after I remove my eye makeup and it is really quite amazing. It gently exfoliates the skin and leaves it feeling refreshed. Plus, it gives your skin a beautiful glow! $32 value

Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap -- two half (but not little samples) bars of the AMAZING Carrot Goat's Milk (I swear by this on the face) and Orange Clove, which is such a gorgeous scent this time of year. If you are new to Nan's bars, you are definitely missing out. I have tried hundreds of bar soaps and NONE can match Nan's! $6 value

Hurraw Moon Balm Lip Balm -- This fabulous full size balm is blue chamomile and vanilla and is uber rich without being sticky. It contains super healthy ingredients such as Argan Oil, too.  $4.29 value

Soap and Paper Factory Winter Vanilla Hand Cream -- Abundant in shea butter, this is a really lovely, non-foody vanilla hand cream (features the aroma of sandalwood & bourbon, too) in absolutely gorgeous packaging. $10 value

Aura Candle Travel Tin -- I received the tin in Luscious, which is an intoxicating blend of sandalwood, tangerine, vanilla, amber & musk. $14 value

My Impressions:

It feels like having a personal shopper who has selected the box contents with great thought and care. High quality, safe ingredients are important to Boxwalla -- this is evident. Beautiful packaging is also a factor. Each item in the box is just exquisite and you can be confident that if you are sending this to someone else, that they will be very impressed!

Boxwalla boxes are very carefully curated and I am very excited to see how the company evolves! Does it cost more than some of the other boxes? Yes. However, in this case, you REALLY get what you pay for. How many times have you just been unable to use the bulk of what comes in your box? Not with this one. It's really something special.

Coming soon!

Boxwalla is sharing a sneak peek of the upcoming February box --

Beauty Box : Cleopatra.  When we think of Cleopatra's beauty ritual- we think of pampering ingredients like rose water and honey and goat milk. To this roster of decadence we add a few more of our favorite skin softening ingredients : Shea butter, cacoa butter, mango butter, buriti oil, sea buckthorn oil. A touch of cocoa essence, some amber. Sensual tuberose wax and orange flower absolute. What we've come up with is a box filled with some of our favorite luxuries for our skin. A box to channel your inner Cleopatra and pamper your skin and body including an indispensable piece of makeup that will nourish your skin while adding a natural flush of color.

Learn more at the Boxwalla website. Connect with Boxwalla on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclosure: I received my box at no cost. As always, this in no way influenced my review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Benefits of a consistent facial care routine (and what I'm using now)

There’s something comforting about my bedtime beauty routine. Once I massage my creamy cleanser into my skin, it is as if I am washing away any stress from the day. Those few minutes spent on pampering actually come with other perks. In fact, there are several benefits to having a consistent skincare routine.

1. Your skin will be in better condition.

You change the oil in your car every few months in order to properly maintain it. You know that routine maintenance is a priority to extend the life of your car. You need to respect your skin the same way.

For many of us, we skip steps in our routine because we think it’ll take too long. We are all stretched for time. Once you find the right products, you'll soon realize that it only takes about 5 minutes to do your face. Faithfully keeping a skincare routine will help to treat wrinkles, prevent acne & improve the clarity of you skin.

2. Your skin will work harder for you.

It might sound silly, but it’s true. When you take care of your skin, your skin will take care of you. Did you know that your skin is actually working hard while you sleep to regenerate? Cell turnover is faster at night and this allows your products to do their job more efficiently. If you are careful and make a point to cleanse your skin and remove your makeup every night, your skin will be better able to repair itself, while treatment products and moisturizers will absorb more deeply.

My favorites--

At night, I wash my face with Yes to Cucumbers Cleansing Milk

I also use Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion (with salicylic acid) as a toner.

My night time serum is Suki Even Tone Brightening Serum

Decleor Neroli Essential Night Balm is my go-to night cream.

I also treat my eyes with First Aid Beauty Detox Eye Roller.

3. Your youthful glow will start to come back.

Dullness. At some point, most of us will notice a decrease in skin radiance. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you make exfoliation a regular part of your skincare routine, you’ll get your glow back. Cell turnover slows down as we age, so it’s important to help the process along so our skin can shed dead cells.

Exuviance Performance Peel AP25 uses mandelic and glycolic acid to effectively sloughs top layers of the skin,and the results are VERY similar to what you would get at the spa. By exfoliating that top layer of skin, over time your skin will look fresh and healthy once more.

4. With consistency comes visible results.

How many of you have purchased the latest skincare item promising results only to use it a couple of times before declaring it ineffective? People get so caught up in the notion of miracle ingredients or finding the fountain of youth that they expect instant results. Dramatic results will not happen overnight. It can often take weeks of consistent use for noticeable results to happen. The key to seeing those changes is to stick to your skincare routine.

5. Those results you’re beginning to see? They will be easier to maintain.

I like to think of a skincare routine like an exercise routine. When you first start your exercise routine, you might not see results those first few days. Once your routine is established, you take notice. You’ll begin to think, “Wow. Look at the definition in my waist.” When you stick with that exercise plan, you’ll continue to notice changes in your body and if you keep at it, you will be able to maintain those changes. The same is true with a consistent skincare regimen. Your skin will continue to look healthy and refreshed as long as you don’t give up on the routine. If you stop using your products, your results won't last. Please know that it is also okay to change up your routine! Skin changes with age, hormonal changes, weather changes, etc., so what may work now may need to be adjusted down the road.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Gilded

I adore gold. In fact, when we move next week, my living room is going to feature a mix of black & white, along with silver and gold. 

Gold is a great neutral, yet it adds that touch of elegance. I am sharing some gold favorites today. 

Add a bit of sparkle to your hair this holiday season with DryBar Gold Mine Shimmering Leave In Conditioner. Cruelty-free, paraben free, phthalate free., $29

This eye shadow is perfect for the holiday season! It is the Powder Eye Shadow in Gold Rush from Au Naturale

Au Naturale is my most favorite of the truly natural cosmetic lines and it is not just the ingredients that are so stellar -- the quality, texture and packaging are all lovely, too. 

Au Naturale products are made in the USA and are paraben-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, bismuth oxychloride-free, non-nano, carmine-free, vegan, cruelty-free., $17

The Swept Away mini brush collection features 5 beautiful brushes and comes with a bag. This one makes a great gift!, $28

Add a touch of gold to your skin with the Golden Face and Body Shimmer Lotion from Jane Iredale.
This adds a gentle golden shimmer without being disco ball sparkly. Let's face it, only teenagers need to be that sparkly! I am so happy that this limited-edition product is back for the holiday season. I will put in on my arms and legs when I am wearing my favorite dress during the party season! This is more than a shimmer lotion, though. It contains a slew of beneficial ingredients, from apple fruit extract to green and white tea., $32

The Gold Sparkle wrap from Jamberry is gorgeous as an accent nail. Need a consultant? Let me know, as I have a few friends to recommend!, $15

Looking for a facial highlighter in powder form? My favorite with a golden hue is the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal., $38

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Aromatherapy Favorites

I love my essential oils. I regularly use my oils. I have blended with them for years--having been certified in Aromatherapy for 10+ years now. I buy synergistic blends to use in the home. I use my diffuser. That said, there seems to be a growing trend on social media: crazy marketing claims concerning the benefits of aromatherapy.

They are not a cure-all, they are not meant to replace Western medicine. They will not cure cancer, Autism, Alzheimer's or RA. You see these claims daily, though. You will be seeing more on this from me soon in an upcoming magazine feature. Aromatherapy, though, does have many benefits and there is real science to back it up. However, it is best used as a complementary therapy.

If you have an essential oil aficionado in your life, I have some gift ideas for you today!

  • Let me help you out if you are choosing a Custom Blend over at (seed) Body Care. I have been freelancing for (seed) for more than three years and I am excited to have a new project helping customers find their ideal essential oil blends. Email me at and I will be more than happy to help you out! The Custom Blends line is stellar -- you will find Body Lotion, Body Oil, Lip Oil, and Body Wash in this collection. The products are all naturally plant-based and are vegan, paraben-free, artificial fragrance free, petrochemical free, cruelty free, gluten free, and use an Ecocert preservative.

  • Looking for an aromatherapy stocking stuffer? I am a huge fan of the pre-diluted synergy blends over at Plant Therapy. I use the Pain Relief Blend to help with my carpal tunnel. The Kid Safe Sniffle Stopper blend rubbed under my boys' noses helps with congestion, and I have also found that my older son does really well focusing on his school work with the Kid Safe A+ Attention blend.  

  • If you are an essential oil you will definitely want to consider an oil diffuser. There are so many lovely options available these days. Mine is from Art Naturals and was found right on Amazon. I am extremely happy with this one and it's more aesthetically pleasing than some others.

  • I only purchase my essential oils from Plant Therapy. Try one of their sets, especially if you are new to oils. I trust Plant Therapy. I love how they do not use any wacky medical claims. I also love that the company employs experts in aromatherapy to answer product questions. This is important. Day in and day out, there are some truly unbelievable -- and possibly dangerous -- claims on social media made by reps of essential oil companies. I am not naming names, but if you look up the two brands to which I am referring, you will find articles about lawsuits concerning both companies.

  • FarfalladelaLuna has an exquisite collection of handmade essential oil storage boxes over on Etsy. Do check them out!

  • You can also experience the benefits of aromatherapy by adding oils to a diffuser locket. There are some great ones for gift giving at Scentered Aromatherapy Lockets.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Decleor Aromessence Neroli Serum & Night Balm

I think I am in love. Shh. Don't tell my hubby.

Just kidding.

But I am in love enough with these facial care products that I recently "broke up" with the serum and night cream I had been using that I believed were irreplaceable. These products are that good.

I have been using the same facial products since May. They are quite lovely. And they worked pretty well for me. Also back in May,  I received a package from Decleor. It was full of luxurious looking products, but I never opened them until about 5 weeks ago because my skin was just fine. It happens each fall -- when the air temps drop and the humidity falls, my skin becomes dry. That is when I remembered that I had just packed the items from Decleor in a moving box (eek, 10 more days till the big day is FINALLY here). I took out the products and am completely blown away with the quality  and the results.

I have not used the BB Cream or the Rose serum yet, but I will unpack those soon and try them out and get back to you with my thoughts.

What I have been using religiously -- Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum and the Aromessence Neroli Essential Night Balm.

Serum Review -- I have long been a fan of facial oils. My first experience with them was when I was a Clarins Counter Manager right after college. I remember that I was not quite 22 and had fairly oily skin. When our visiting exec recommended I try the Lotus Treatment Oil, I was scared. Using an oil on my skin went against everything I had previously been taught. That oil turned my skin around, though, and I was forever convinced that oils can benefit even the oiliest of skin types.

I used to use oils at night. This one says to use in the morning and even I was skeptical about this. What if my makeup slid off? What if it had my looking like an oil slick?

Here is my AM routine:

*Cleanse skin with Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy CoQ10 & Rosehip Cleansing Milk

*Apply Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion Alcohol Free (It has salicylic acid to gently exfoliate too)

*Apply two drops of Decleor Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum

*Wait 5 minutes and apply Bare Minerals Prime Time primer

*Apply It Cosmetics SPF 50 CC Cream (Radiance formula, shade Light) with a Real Techniques Stippling Brush

This facial oil serum absorbs very quickly into the skin and does not leave an oily film or residue behind. I have never had luck with an oil before my makeup, but this one is different. It really leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated without any unpleasant greasiness.

Did I mention the ingredients? They are really top-notch and beneficial to the skin.

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Oil, Linalool, D-Limonene, Geraniol, Farnesol, Citral

Night Balm Review -- This is my most favorite product from Decleor. It was the first one that I tried. Let me share my experience. I started using this when my mother was recovering from hip surgery and I was traveling back and forth. My husband was on a business trip in Dallas and the dog had a tummy bug. At the same time, we accepted an offer on our house and had to find another. I was SO stressed, sleeping less than two hours a night, and felt like I was barely functioning. My skin was DULL and I looked as tired as I felt.

I started using the balm on a Wednesday night. I remember -- it felt so wonderful on the skin, immediately quenching the dryness. The dog got me up every hour to take him out and I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror around 3:30. My skin was glowing and looked so refreshed. The results from the balm appeared quickly.

Over time, I have seen a softening of those coupe pesky fine lines that have crept in. My skin tone is even. It is healthy looking.

The trick with this gem of a product? Only add a TINY amount to your fingertip -- I mean less than a size of a pea. Then massage between your finger tips and gently massage into the skin.

Ingredients --

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax , Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Dipteryx Odorata Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Coumarin, Farnesol, Geraniol, D-Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol, Linalool.

The Skin Benefits of Corylus Avellana Seed Oil 

You do not often see this one in skincare. What is Corylus avellana? It's common name is European hazel or hazelnut oil and it really is splendid for the skin. It is the #1 ingredient in both of these products. So what are the benefits, exactly?
  • Astringent oil delivers non-greasy hydration to the skin 
  • Quick to absorb
  • Ideal for normal, combination and oily skin types
  • Rich and Vitamins B and E
  • Abundant in flavonoids
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Hydrating and skin balancing

The Skin Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli is very special. This essential oil is also very expensive. Why? To yield just one pound of the oil, you need at least one thousand pounds of orange blossoms!

Neroli comes is distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. It has myriad skincare benefits.

  • May help improve the appearance of acne scars
  • May help improve skin elasticity
  • Calming and relaxing to sensitive skin

Thoughts on Decleor  

Decleor is a luxurious brand of HIGH QUALITY, effective skincare. It reminds me of a combination of three lines: Tata Harper, Clarins and Suki. In many ways, it marries those three into one ideal collection.

I didn't think I would find myself changing things up so much, but I am so grateful that I gave the products a chance, as they are truly exquisite.

For more details, visit

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Blueberry Edition

If you love the scent of blueberries, you absolutely will want to try the Whish Body Blueberry On the Go Travel Set. This adorable set includes TSA-friendly sizes fof their body wash, butter and shaving cream, all in a cute travel bag. $20

Blueberries are potent antioxidants, and you will get your fill in Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask. This facial mask from Lush features blueberries, orange, almond, Irish moss, calamine and chamomile to soothe uber sensitive or irritated skin. $7.95

Blueberries & Cream Rooibos from Tealightful (my consultant is Jarrod Parsons) is a berry-licious drink. It is creamy and sweet without being too sweet and is just delicious on a cold night. $16.50

Blueberry Ale Beer Soap from the Brown Bag Soap Company on Etsy combines Sweet Water Blueberry Wheat Aloe, coconut oil, olive oil and more. I love blueberry beer and you could make a gift basket with blueberry beer, blueberry soap and blueberry candles. Wouldn't that be a fun gift? $5.95

If you are looking for an indulgent gift for the blueberry lover, the Trish McEvoy Home Collection Blueberry Vanilla Scented Candle would make a special gift. $20.50

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Palette Edition

There are so many gorgeous eye shadow palettes out there in every price range. it can be hard to know which ones are worth it, though. Some look beautiful, but the actual product is choppy when applying or you may even experience the dreaded eyeshadow fallout.

I am sharing my TEN FAVORITE EYE SHADOW PALETTES -- all are ideal for giving!

Bonus: All of my favorites are paraben free.

If you are looking for the BEST assortment of truly matte shadows, the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol. 1 Matte Luxe Transforming Eyeshadow Palette is a must have. This is my most favorite collection of matte colors in any price range and it is a staple. It Cosmetics is in my top 3 favorite brands of cosmetics because the ingredients are great, the packaging is beautiful, and the products actually live up to their claims.  Something unexpected? These can ALL be transformed into a pearl finish if desired. $42

The Venice Enchantment Eye Shadow Palette from Cargo is made of rich golds and wines and comes with an eye pencil in a coordinating shade. $34

Jane Iredale is one of The Beauty Blogger's longtime favorite brands. The ingredients are really stellar, as is the quality -- plus the packaging is truly gift worthy. In the Blink of a Smoky Eye Kit  features a blend of neutrals and colors of the highly pigmented Pure Pressed shadows. $50

Another favorite is the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette. Oh, this one is gorgeous. It is a really wonderful palette and the colors, especially the bold sapphire, are simply stunning. I confess-- I am not a big UD shadow fan. I have the Naked Basics palette and do like it, but the larger Naked palettes just aren't the best in terms of quality. I am happy with this one, though. Get it before it is gone! $58

Looking for a kit that includes a bit more AND has absolutely fantabulous ingredients? Then check out the Au Naturale Julie Henderson Glam Eye Palette. It is an incredible value -- regularly $130 for $48.

The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Collection is a lovely blend of matte and shimmer shades. I love the fact that there is natural cocoa fruit powder in the shadows, which delivers a rich and chocolatey scent. $49

I've had this one for years and it continues to be a night-out favorite. It's from Honeybee Gardens and is the Rock the Smokey Eye Palette. A friendly tip -- this is $29.99 nearly everywhere, except Ulta's website, where you will find it for just $16.99.

The PRO Palette 2  from LORAC is one of the most reached for palettes in my makeup collection. I used it on the brides and bridesmaids for the weddings I did over the summer and it is just one I will always want in my personal stash. Like the other brands features here, this is not the only eye palette from LORAC, but it is by far my favorite from the brand.  $42

What drugstore palette is far superior to the Urban Decay Naked palettes in terms of quality of ingredients AND no fallout (which the Nakeds are notorious for)? Yep, it's the $11 Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Classic Nude Palette. No parabens. No gluten. No artificial fragrance. It's fabulous!

This is a true classic. Laura Mercier never disappoints with her powder shadows and the Eye Artist's Palette is like that Little Black Dress -- this will be an essential in your beauty repertoire. Find it at Sephora. $55

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide: Manicure Edition

Let's talk manicure essentials  today on The Beauty Blogger. I have some favorite gifts to share with you today. Enjoy!

Have you ever tried the nail colors from Mineral Fusion? No? I hadn't either until about a week ago. I am a huge fan of Mineral Fusion's lipsticks and blushes, but think I may love their nail polish even more! I kid you not, these are THE BEST safer nail polishes on the market. They are free of formaldehyde, DBP, camphor and toluene.

I like these more than Zoya, Priti NYC and even Butter London. While the Mineral Fusion nail colors are the least expensive of the bunch, they are my clear favorites.

Mineral Fusion sent me their holiday minis to try out and I applied them before Thanksgiving. I prepared a turkey dinner, scrubbed the bathrooms and then spent the rest of the weekend packing for our move and they did NOT chip. I used no base coat or top coat, as I was in a hurry when I applied and got a full 4 days without a single miniscule chip.

Is your gift recipient a nail wrap fan? I highly recommend the Glossique Nail Deco starter kit! No heat required! It comes with 2 sheets of nail wraps, 1 pair of nail scissors, a cuticle pusher, glass file and 6 nail prep wipes all for just $45. Glossique is my favorite nail wrap company and I have personally used everything from Minx to Incoco. These are long-wearing and do not cause nail damage like some of the other brands.

Of course, you have to have your hands looking their best when showing off your new nails, so consider the gift of glowing, healthy skin with the (seed) Hand Care Kit. This kit comes with 3 full sized, naturally plant based hand creams and a hand scrub for under $30.

Dry ragged cuticles are no match for a high quality cuticle oil. L'Occitane Shea Nail and Cuticle Oil, available at Sephora, is a favorite for gift-giving.

Don't forget to add a gentle hand cleanser to your gift basket! World Market has some really pretty hand washes to check out. Check out the AAA Lemongrass & Basil.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Argan Oil Must-Haves

I've been writing about the benefits of Argan Oil for years.

Are you using skincare products made with argan oil? If not, you may be missing out. Less known than coconut oil or jojoba oil, argan is truly a special oil. Argan oil itself contains more antioxidant and cell regenerative properties than olive oil, grape seed oil and avocado oil combined.

When applied to the skin, it absorbs quickly, and without an oily film, leaving behind a silky and satiny feel. It also works beautifully to restore shine and lustre to the hair.

Argan oil is commonly referred to as "liquid" gold -- and with good reason. Not just a filler, argan oil provides the skin with many nutrients and a whole list of benefits.

Argan the protector.

Argan oil is rich in phenols, making it a protective oil. It contains 200% more Vitamin E than olive oil. Argan is not just nourishing, it's a potent antioxidant and can effectively fend off free radical damage.

Need moisture? Look no further.

Argan oil is highly moisturizing. It is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids to help plump the skin, boost moisture levels and give a supple and healthy appearance. Choose a facial moisturizer or serum with argan oil to ease dryness (try Beautycounter Lustro Face Oil 1). You will be happy to discover that argan hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy film like other oils often do.

Slower skin aging? Yes, please!

Argan oil may make your skin look younger. Abundant in vitamins to improve skin elasticity, argan also boasts something called Triterpens, which aid in cell restructuring and can slow down the cell aging process. Because of the regenerating properties, your skin will benefit from hydrating products with argan oil. My go-to? Perfectly Posh As Good As Gold Argan Oil Skin Stick. It's the best $13 you will ever spend!

Could this oil help combat acne?

Argan oil may even fight acne, as many believe that it is not only antiseptic, but anti-bacterial as well. It's light and fast-absorbing and will not clog the pores.

Reduce inflammation with argan oil.

Argan oil may help fight inflammation. Evidence suggests that, when applied topically, argan oil may reduce pain, itching and swelling associated with various skin ailments.

We've only begun to hear about the many skincare benefits of argan oil. It seems like new research appears every few months promoting more and more benefits -- but it's not just limited to the skin these days.

What about argan oil in beauty products?

Yes! You will find many cosmetics out there now formulated with argan oil. My new favorite argan beauty item is also my NEW FAVORITE MASCARA! I have been using a new paraben-free mascara the past couple months and I love it so much that I just ordered another. If you have been reading over the years, you will know that this rarely happens. If you have not yet tried it, do yourselves a favor and try the Pur Minerals Big Look Mascara lengthens, thickens, and conditions without irritation, smudging or clumping. It's a winner!

Need a gift idea for the beauty junkie? Head to Sephora for the Josie Maran Whimsical Wonder Argan Oil Color Essentials boxed set.


Guillaume D, Charrouf Z. Argan oil and other argan products: use in dermocosmetology. The European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2011;113(4):403–408.

Rawlings AV, Matts PJ. Stratum corneum moisturization at the molecular level: an update in relation to the dry skin cycle. J Invest Dermatol. 2005;124(6):1099–1110.