Hydration Station: Winter Survival Kit

It’s official – radiators have got to be the most drying heat source of all time. This being my first winter (Polar Vortex, rather) with radiators as my home’s primary heat source has been an experience. I didn’t know it was possible to feel like you were about to dry up and blow away from the inside out, but I am now intimately acquainted with the feeling. As a girl whose skin type has always been wedged firmly in the oily category, dehydration of this level was quite the unpleasant surprise. Luckily, I had some hidden gems patiently biding their time in my beauty stash that saved the day.

Hydration heroes, assemble!

…sorry.

josie maran argan oil light, winter skin care, dehydrated skin

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light – I’d heard endless praise about the original version of this oil circulating the beauty blogosphere for ages, but, given my aforementioned oily status, I could never bring myself to try it. Then, one fortuitous day at Sephora, I found the light formula offered as a points reward and decided it was fate. Months later, in the depths of oh-so dry desperation, I unearthed this little bottle in my drawer and whisked it straight to the bathroom for a test run. Despite being an oil, this serum dries instantly on the skin to an almost powdery finish which isn’t oily or heavy in the slightest. The oil is almost completely scentless and, despite my secret fears, caused no breakouts! Perhaps most miraculous of all was that it proved to be the extra TLC my parched complexion was looking for and has become a Polar Vortex staple. This nifty oil can be used on the hair, and can even be used under makeup as a day time moisturizer. Wintertime win.

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – Winter officially marked the transition for this gorgeous cream from occasional luxury to nightly staple. A super pampering, hydrating, plumping night cream that smells like a rose garden. Full review here

Sephora Collection Age Defy Eye Cream – This eye cream marks the first item of Sephora skin care I’ve ever tried. I received a sample of this in one of my VIB goodie bags and was impressed enough by the rich, creamy texture to upgrade to the full size. This cream is thick, smooth, creamy, and hydrating. It’s formulated sans parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, Phthalates, GMOS,  or Triclosan. It also includes HydroSenn+, a natural ingredient which they claim is more effective than hyaluronic acid! All that at $25 – a bargain if I ever saw one. The packaging, equipped with a pump, is also germaphobe-friendly, a rare thing in an eye cream.

Bliss Fabulips Sugar Lip Scrub – Did you know it’s possible to be addicted to lip balm? You can become dependent on it, which explains those days when even non-stop balm action can’t soothe your chapped pout – and why I have a lip balm in every purse/jacket/pair of jeans I own. Here’s where a lip scrub comes into play; instead of merely swiping your Burt’s Bees over the dead, dry skin that’s accumulated on your lips (gross, sorry), you use a scrub to gently buff the dead skin away, leaving your lips supple, soft, and primed for moisturizing. During my dry spell, I bumped this baby up from once a week use to almost every day, it was the only thing (apart from copious water drinking) that made any real difference.

Macadamia Deep Repair Masque – I mentioned this mask in my 2013 favorites post from a few days ago. This product is a miracle worker for dehydrated, tired locks. Let’s start with the smell. I know it’s probably the least important element of a hair mask, but, honestly, it’s one the best smelling substances I own – perfumes included. I smooth this mask on in place of conditioner after shampooing and then attend to the rest of my shower business while it soaks in – cleanse my face; wash my body; briefly debate shaving my legs, decide against it because, winter; contemplate where my life is going…so and so forth. By the time this mask is rinsed out, my hair is smooth, detangled, and smelling ridiculous. When it’s dried, it’s shinier, softer, and feeling distinctly hydrated.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – the love affair continues. I have a full review on this little number here, but let me just say this detangles like no other, hydrates, protects, and smells amazing. P.s. it’s only $21.95.

MoroccanOil Treatment Light – Since the ends of my hair are a testament to every dye job, blow dry, and curling iron my hair’s been subjected to over the last few years, sometimes they need a little extra attention, particularly in winter. Enter MorrocanOil. Given that I have naturally fine hair, I opted to go with the light treatment formula – I simply work one pump’s worth of product through the ends of my hair and style as normal. It doesn’t weigh down my hair, has no greasy residue or lingering scent, and leaves my ends softer and healthier. It’s a cult favorite for a reason, people.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Body Butter – this also made an appearance in my 2013 favorites. This body butter has been my absolute savior over the last few weeks. More than my Soap & Glory body butter, more than even my Laura Mercier Souffle Body Creme, this lotion hydrates my skin for the entire day, without being heavy or sticky. With a huge variety of beautiful and delicious scents to choose from, I look forward to working my way through the entire line, one body butter at a time. Or maybe two, they all smell really good, you guys.

And that’s a wrap! That’s all I have to offer you in this bitter time of intense cold and dehydration. Hopefully something in this winter survival kit helps someone else make it through the rest of January without drying up and blowing away!

Image credit: josiemarancosmetics.com

Year in Review: 2013 Favorites

With New Year’s eve now behind us, it’s officially the time of year when “Best of 2013” beauty lists are inundating your blog feeds. It’s also the time of year when you accidentally put 2013 instead of 2014 every time you write the date and have to awkwardly macguyver a four out of a three. Fun times.

I decided against publishing monthly favorites for the last few months to build up excitement for the big finale. And by that I mean stepping up my blogging game is a major resolution for 2014. I hope you’ve all had an amazing holiday season filled with food, family, friends, and all the other nice things that start with F. Without further ado, here’s my roundup of the all-star products from 2013 – read on!

face, makeup, cosmetics, benefit fine one one, favorites

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla) – I have a feeling this baby is ending up on many a “Best of 2013” list. My favorite concealer I’ve ever tried. Full review here.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup (Shade 1.0) – I really owe this product its own review. It is hands down the best foundation I have ever used and I would shed actual tears of sadness if it were ever discontinued. The formula is super lightweight with a buildable medium to full coverage and a demi-matte finish. The demi-matte finish is great for those of us with oily skin who run in fear from any foundation with the words “radiant” or “luminizing” but still want to look natural. The formula contains light-diffusing spheres that blur imperfections for a flawless finish, even without concealer. I like to apply this with a buffing brush for that little extra coverage. The foundation is available in 18 shades that are numbered according to undertone – which makes the painstaking process of choosing a foundation color that much easier.

Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer – While I’m still looking for my one true primer love, this Benefit primer was my most reached-for in 2013. Full review here.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Translucent Oil Control Powder – If I had to pinpoint my longest running, most committed relationship to date, it would be with this powder. I found this gem during the dark and spot-filled years of puberty and have stayed loyal ever since. While I use Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder to actually set my makeup, I use Neutrogena to keep my face matte throughout the day. It’s not cakey, adds no additional coverage, and is the best shine-fighting powder I’ve ever used. Bonus – you can find it at any drugstore with a Neutrogena section.

cheek makeup, favorites, josie maran coconut cheek gelee, makeup, cosmetics

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée (Poppy Paradise) – 2013 was truly the year of the cream blush. Or in this case, gel blush. I picked this up a few months ago and am still head over heels. The blush’s texture is unlike any other makeup I’ve tried, it feels like smoothing cool water over your skin. It’s super pigmented and creates the most beautiful, natural flush that lasts all day. The packaging is also as streamlined as it gets, the little pot is super small and fits easily into a purse or travel makeup bag. If you’re into cream blush – you need to give this a try.

Benefit Fine One One – Another superstar of the year of cream blush. I had a rather intense love affair with Fine One One this summer and still whip it out when I need some help looking awake/alive – the consequence of being naturally pale during a polar vortex. Full review here.

Physicians Formula Solar Powder Bronzer (Light Bronzer) – I rediscovered this gem in my makeup stash this year. I consider this the unicorn of the bronzer world: matte, light, affordable, and with SPF. Do you know how challenging it is to find a bronzer when you are naturally “fair” and live in fear of all-over shimmer? Well the hunt is over – this is it. This is a particularly great bronzer during winter when the all-over bronzed look is harder to explain.

eye makeup, urban decay basics, favorites, makeup

Too Faced eye shadow palettes (Matte Eye, Natural Eye, Boudoir Eyes) – I think of Too Faced eye palettes as the Cinderellas of the beauty world. You always hear about Urban Decay, MAC, STILA, and LORAC but rarely will Too Faced come up in a conversation about the best eye palettes. Well I have three of these babies – three! And I couldn’t be happier, the shadows are smooth, pigmented, and gorgeous. The packaging, while occasionally a wee bit tacky, isn’t bulky or fiddly. Too Faced has also taken much of the guess work out of creating an eye look, each palette comes with three pre-arranged looks: day, classic, and fashion. There’s even a little instruction manual tucked inside that details precisely where on your eye each shade should go. Easy peasy. The warm brown combination in the Matte Eye palette is my all-time favorite combo for a quick, easy smokey eye that works both day and night. The Boudoir palette is packed with gorgeous, subtly sexy shades and the Natural Eye collection offers beautiful, wearable neutrals in both light and dark shades. Great quality, great value, and a great option for anyone new to makeup.

Urban Decay Basics Palette – Confession time. This is the only Urban Decay palette I own. Shock, horror! I realize this is akin to a cardinal sin in the beauty world but I am a matte, neutral eye girl at heart and $50 seemed a lot to spend on a palette I wasn’t sure I’d use. But before you click away from my blog in outrage, I’ll let you know that I’ve decided to give in and pick up the original Naked palette. I am slowly but surely embracing all things shimmery and sparkly and, to be honest, I feel like a bit of a fraud without one. Anyway, I picked up the basics palette earlier this year (matte AND neutral – be still my heart!) and now couldn’t imagine life without it. From natural everyday to polished professional to bold but classic, this palette has it covered.

favorites, makeup, real techniques expert face brush, clinique almost lipstick

Clinique Almost Lipstick (Black Honey) – Don’t be alarmed, but I’m prepared to declare this my favorite lip product of all time. ALL TIME. Black honey looks downright intimidating in the tube but is the most gorgeous, sheer cranberry on the lips and, as far as I can tell, suits everyone. It glides on like lip balm, it’s not sticky or smudgy and can build from a sheer stain to an eye-catching lipstick. As someone who’s always shied away from bold lip color, this is the perfect way to work red lipstick into my makeup routine and I have LIVED in this over the holidays. Do yourself a favor and just get it. Go now, I’ll wait.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush – If by some chance you’ve yet to hear about Real Techniques makeup brushes, do yourself a favor and check them out. They’re not only incredible and super affordable but they’re also cruelty free. They also happen to be created by one of my all-time favorite YouTubers, Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo. The Expert Face Brush is my reigning favorite foundation brush, it buffs product into the skin to create a flawless, full coverage finish. Pair this with the Urban Decay foundation mentioned above and you are SET.

perfume, favorites, chloe eau de parfum

Joe Malone English Pear and Freesia Cologne – Oh, Jo Malone, so nice to my nose and so cruel to my wallet. Le sigh. This scent was my daily go-to this past spring and summer, it’s the most delicious, fruity, summery fragrance. Sometimes I would just stand in my room and smell it…and drool a little. One downside, other than the steep price tag, would be lack of staying power. I would need to touch this up throughout the day but this is still going to be a permanent fixture in my perfume line up.

Chloé Eau de Parfum – This little number was my most used perfume of fall and winter. The scent is feminine, sophisticated, and a little sexy with staying power that is out of this world. Since accurately describing fragrances is so tricky, I’ll let Sephora give you the low down:

“This fresh, smooth floral fragrance evokes sublime powdery rose. The effect is chic, comfortable, and entirely addictive.”

^ What they said.

Marc Jacobs Nail Hi Shine Nail Lacquer, nail polish, favorites

Seche Vite – this top coat is super thick, super shiny, and super fast drying. What more could you possibly want?

FAVORITE SHADES

Gatsby (Marc Jacobs) – A totally unique silvery pink chrome polish that’s crazy pigmented and will have strangers asking after your nail color. 

In the Cab-Ana (Essie) – A gorgeous, eye-catching turquoise with warmer undertones than your typical blue shades. My most worn shade of the summer.

Read my Palm (Sephora by OPI) – This muted sage color somehow manages to be both sophisticated and, well, green. The formula is also a total winner too, lasted days on my nails with nary a chip. I can’t find it online but I still see it in stores if you’re interested!

Chinchilly (Essie) – The ultimate trendy neutral. My favorite toe nail shade of the year.

Gold Roses (Sally Hansen) – The perfect, perfect rose gold polish. Again, I can’t find a link but I tracked one down recently at a CVS! 

beauty, favorites, Lush BIG shampoo

LUSH BIG shampoo – Super weird, super effective. Full review here.

Macadamia Hair Mask – This has to be my favorite hair mask. The thick, creamy formula leaves my hair feeling soft, smooth, hydrated and smelling ridiculous – all without weighing it down. I’ve never hear a bad word about this baby, apart from maybe the price tag, though I promise you it’s worth every penny.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – Hands down the best leave-in conditioner/detangling spray I’ve ever tried. Full review here.

Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Finish – 2013 was truly the year of texturizing sprays. Salt sprays are just so 2012, people. With naturally fine, straight hair, salt sprays never really worked for me so I embraced the new trend with open arms. The Dryspun Finish appears to be Bumble & Bumble’s answer to the wildly popular Oribe Texturizing Spray – same idea but with a lighter finish. I love this stuff. It’s super easy to use and gives my hair that little bit extra body without being heavy or crispy – the perfect way to wake up a tired ‘do after a long day.

the body shop vitamin e body butter, favorites, skin care, beauty

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – This moisturizer is super gorgeous and never fails to make my face feel plumped and pampered. A luxury item that somehow became a staple. Full review here.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Body Butter – Good lord does this stuff smell good. I personally find the other Soap & Glory scents a little too sweet and intense (blasphemy!) but The Righteous Body Butter is in a class of its own. I generally don’t enjoy smelling like a fruit or any type of baked good which seems to be the theme with most body butters so this sophisticated, sexy fragrance was calling my name. The formula is moisturizing but lightweight and works into the skin quickly so you can dress immediately after application without that awful feeling of having your clothes sticking to your skin. This also layers beautifully with the Chloé Eau de Parfum mentioned above.

Body Shop Body Butter (Vitamin E) – I might be the last person to jump on the band wagon with these. I’ve been foaming at the mouth to try their Honey Body Butter but it’s been sold out everywhere. I finally gave in and picked up a different scent, Vitamin E (which isn’t technically a scent but let’s all just go with it). This stuff is phenomenal. The formula is creamy and smooth and sinks quickly into the skin yet leaves your skin feeling plumped and moisturized for hours. This has been an absolute lifesaver for me this winter (radiators – the most drying heat source in the world).

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm – 2013 was a big year for Emma Hardie. This balm seemingly ended up on the favorites lists of every blogger/vlogger/beauty guru I follow – and for good reason. The formula is absolutely gorgeous, smooth and luxurious, it takes off every trace of oil and makeup without being drying. An oil-based cleansing balm seems a counterintuitive choice for someone with naturally oily skin but just TRUST ME this baby is a gem. It’s revolutionized my skincare routine and I have a backup stashed away at all times.

Well that’s all, folks, all my best bits and bobs from the past year. Let me know some of your favorite products from 2013 – Santa oh so kindly left me a Sephora gift card in my stocking so recommendations are welcome! And for US readers living anywhere other than Florida or southern California, stay warm, friends!