The Current Edit

Considering the nice California summers had been good to my skin in the past, I was surprised by how finicky my skin has been lately. After using up my DDF Glycolic Toning Complex prior to making the move back to California, I refrained from repurchasing or replacing it with another chemical exfoliant, simply in the interest of saving money. Let's just say my skin has been paying the price - it's been unusually congested and dull. Luckily, I can always rely on Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask to work double duty (full review here). It removes impurities from my pores, unclogs my skin and creates a dreamily smooth canvas in a matter of 20 minutes. Their Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair* is equally as fantastic. After an unfortunate and unusual bout with a dry, itchy patch on my upper right lip (weird, right?), this was the main product that helped whip my lips back into shape. As its name would suggest, it actually repairs and heals chapped and irritated lips.

In other skincare news, most nights, I've been layering the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil under my night cream. Four drops soothes my skin on contact, and it slowly hydrates and plumps throughout the night. It's good enough to use on its own as well, especially during the summer when my skin isn't necessarily craving vast amounts of hydration. After fairly consistent use over the past several months, I can attest to the fact that it does effectively work at fading scars. No, it's not a miracle product, but I've noticed that marks left over post-breakout heal and fade more quickly and thoroughly when I use this.

After my lackluster experience with this coffee scrub, my appreciation for Splurge Skincare The Rub* has just grown even further (full review here). I'm currently using their Winter scent (Peppermint is my favorite though!), and it's incredible. My skin feels super soft post-scrub sesh, but the best part is that it leaves my skin feeling so moisturized that I can actually skip lotioning up altogether.

On the makeup front, I've been craving a more natural base for daytime, and after rediscovering Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream (I wear shade light/medium), I was quickly reminded of all the reasons why I loved it so much in the first place. It gives just enough coverage to even out my skintone without looking heavy, and the SPF30 makes it an easy choice for summer days. As it's still only the beginning of summer (and I'm an avid SPF wearer now), my complexion is still on the fairer side of the spectrum, so I've been relying heavily on bronzer to warm things up. Rouge Bunny Rouge At Goldcombe Bay is the bronzer for fair skin, and it gives me life without making me look overtly bronzed. In terms of blush choices, my hands seem unable to grab anything besides one of my two Make Up For Ever HD Blushes. Pictured is #315, the perfect warm, muted peach. The HD Blush formula is impeccable - it blends so effortlessly and the texture is undetectable on the skin. I LOVE THESE.

For eyes, I've been on a gel liner kick lately. Bobbi Brown Long-Wearing Gel Eyeliner in Black Mauve Shimmer Ink has been making near-daily appearances in my makeup bag, and the stormy, blackened purple is the perfect, softer alternative to a more dramatic, jet black. On my lips has been Givenchy Le Rouge in Rose Dressing. It's a perky pinky coral that instantly brightens up my complexion and offers just enough color for daytime. 

*PR samples

Disclosure: The products denoted with (*) were sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with any of the companies, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the products.


The Coffee Scrub Named Frank

I've tried scrubs aplenty, so it's not common for a scrub to truly pique my interest anymore (not to say I don't absolutely love them though!). Frank, however, is a coffee scrub. And yes, he (it?) apparently goes by Frank, and the wording on the packaging and website are written as though he's talking to you/hitting on you. It's slightly creepy but also mildly humorous. What I liked right off the bat was that Frank seemed different from your run-of-the-mill scrubs, in both ingredients and marketing strategy. I received the original to try out, but it's also available in coconut & grapeseed or cacao.
Frank is a dry scrub that can be used on your face and body. The ground coffee in all of the Frank scrubs is meant to help improve the look of cellulite, stretch marks, psoriasis, varicose veins, eczema and acne. The original, in particular, has brown sugar and sea salt to smooth the surface of the skin, sweet almond oil to moisturize, and vitamins and minerals to "work wonders from the outside in." One of the things I really admire is their short, sweet and natural ingredient list.

Let's just address the elephant in the room and say that yes, those are some pretty bold claims. It makes total sense to me that a body exfoliant could help with things like acne and skin texture because it removes dead skin cells at the surface, but cellulite? Stretch marks? Varicose veins? I'm not so sure.

After cleansing my skin, I turn the water off and massage Frank all over (sounds creepier than it is). I then follow the instructions and proceed to stand awkwardly in my shower while I wait for the scrub to dry, before rinsing it all off. Frank is a very effective exfoliant. My skin feels smooth and soft post-rinse, and despite the instructions given to use a light body wash on oily/combo skin to get rid of any residue, I don't and I find that the slight film/oil left over after I dry off is minimal and leaves my skin with just enough hydration for the summer months. 

What am I not a fan of? First of all, it's messy. It's a dark brown scrub made up of ground coffee beans. It gets everywhere. Secondly, the waiting period for it to dry down is awkward and time-consuming, but apparently, it's a necessary step in order to allow the caffeine time to work its magic on stretch marks and cellulite (fyi, mine still look the same, but I'll keep you posted if things improve with long-term use). Thirdly, the packaging. It's made of paper but lined on the inside to make it waterproof, but I would've preferred a jar that I could more easily keep inside the shower. And lastly, though the scent of coffee tinged with orange may sound pleasant enough, it smells a bit off on me, and you guessed it - it lingers.

My overall feelings about Frank are lukewarm. I think it performs really quite well for a scrub, but the overzealous claims, the messiness and the lingering, less than pleasant scent keep me from falling in love.

Frank coffee scrubs can be purchased from their website, starting from $14.95 for 7 oz.

Disclosure: Frank was sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the product.


My All-Time Favorite Lipstick Formula

There was a time I might have hesitated if pushed to name my favorite lipstick formula, until I tried The One. After all, they say "When you know, you know," right? 

When I tried my first Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick, it was love at first swipe. It was creamy, buttery, and oh so pigmented. And to top it all off, the shade (Fuchsia Irresistible) was stunning. The more I wore it, the more in love I fell. Although creamy with some slip, it never feathers, and my lips feel hydrated and actually nourished the entire time I'm wearing it and for several hours thereafter.
L to R: Fuchsia Irresistible, Rose Dressing and Rouge Egerie
The line includes 24 shades (12 of which were just released this month!), ranging from flattering nudes to bold reds and everything in between. The lipsticks are encased in luxe tubes wrapped in real leather and embossed with the Givenchy logo. The formula boasts intense pigmentation with a semi-matte finish in one stroke, although I would describe the finish as one with soft shine. The color fades slowly and evenly after 4-5 hours (brighter/darker shades leave a nice stain), and the lipsticks never highlight dryness or flakiness. Lips always look smooth and plump.

Fuchsia Irresistible is a vivid fuchsia, Rose Dressing is a medium-toned pinky coral, and Rouge Egerie, one of the newly released shades, is an electric coral-red. All have a cream finish and are without shimmer. Both Fuchsia Irresistible and Rouge Egerie are incredible. They're strikingly bright yet sophisticated, and they make teeth look noticeably whiter. Rouge Egerie, in particular, is unique in that it's such a fresh take on red and manages to separate itself from the usual orangey-reds and pinky-reds, both of which we've seen replicated time and time again from tons of different brands. Rose Dressing is a punchier take on an everyday type of shade. Particularly gorgeous for summer.

Apologies for the dark photos that follow. The swatches in the photo above are color accurate.

Fuchsia Irresistible
Rose Dressing
Rouge Egerie
At $36 a tube, the Givenchy Le Rouges and your wallet definitely won't become best friends anytime soon, but I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity. How often is it that you find a lipstick formula that actually leaves your lips in better condition than they were in before you applied it? Unless I'm in a matte lip mood, the Le Rouges are pretty much everything I could want in a lipstick. 

Do you have a favorite lipstick formula?


Budgeproof Makeup

Whether it's an anticipatory extra long day, scorching temps, or both, when I need my makeup to look flawless from early morning to late in the evening (or even the wee hours of the next morning), I follow these 6 simple steps. 
1 // Use a foundation primer. My combo skin is fairly normal throughout, with the exception of my t-zone, where oil production throughout the day causes makeup to slip, slide and disappear. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is a godsend for when I need my makeup to last those extra few hours, and I find it also works to diminish the look of pores to create an overall more flawless-looking base. Tip: If you have issues with disappearing brows, try extending your foundation primer application onto your brows before applying your brow product of choice. This works particularly well on sparse brows!

2 // Choose a long-wearing foundation. It doesn't necessarily have to be matte, but most long-wearing formulas tend to be of the more matte variety. The key here is not to try anything brand new for the very first time on one of these kinds of days. Choose a foundation that you know looks great and lasts well on your skin. Hourglass Immaculate Foundation never disappoints, and the velvety finish blends beautifully over the Smashbox primer.

3 // Powder up! Dry-skinned gals may be able to skip this step, but if your face has any areas at all that are prone to developing shine throughout the day, at the very least, I'd recommend powdering there. For me, I find the finish of the Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder to be so seamless that I can apply a light dusting all over to lock in my base, and the final product never looks heavy or cakey. The same cannot be said about all powders, so choose wisely. Also, a bit of coverage is always a added bonus.

4 // Prime yo' lids. I don't wear eyeshadow primer most days, since I find most good eyeshadow formulas don't crease or fade significantly on me without it; but, on long days, I leave nothing up to chance. I'm a fan of both Urban Decay Primer Potion (I have the "vintage" tube) and NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base.

5 // Step away from the pencil liner. If you're going to wear eyeliner, gel or liquid is the only way to go. In general, they're more water-resistant, sweat-resistant and long-wearing than pencil liners, no matter how great the formula. There are a ton of great gel formulas out there (L'Oreal, YSL and Clinique to name a few), but my all-time favorite liquid liner is Physician Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum.

6 // The Bold Lip Blot. Apply one layer, gently blot it off onto a tissue and reapply....and maybe repeat. The thin layers help your lipstick to adhere better by removing any excess product or shine between layers that could cause the pigment to slide around. Makes sense since matte lips tend to last longer, right?

How do you make your makeup budgeproof?


The Summer Body Moisturizers

With the warmer weather comes happy and more content (aka less dry) skin. I'm a big proponent of moisturizing your body daily, but seasonal changes often require moving the heavier body butters to the back of the drawer in favor of lighter options. Here are three of my favorites:
St. Ives Fresh Hydration Lotion Oatmeal & Shea Butter // By far the lightest of the bunch, this spray-on lotion comes equipped with a nozzle that delivers a continuous mist that deposits a thin layer of product on the skin. It takes only a few seconds to rub in and absorb. There is no down time needed before getting dressed, making it the perfect option for rushed mornings. It provides delicate moisturization that is just enough in the warmer months. Their Grapefruit option sounds fantastic as well, particularly for summer.

Osmia Organics Body Oil in Sunset // I've been singing the praises of these body oils for quite some time now, and Sunset is the scent I'm currently enjoying my last few uses of. It's a warm, spicy vanilla scent, and when applied to damp/wet skin straight out of the shower, my skin drinks it up in about the same time it takes me to brush my teeth, and I'm left with silky soft skin that lasts all day. It's not greasy or heavy at all, making it a great summer moisturizer option for days when your skin needs a bit more hydration.

Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Ultra-Hydrating Body Butter // Although technically a body butter, this whipped argan oil feels lighter than others I've tried (The Body Shop, Haus of Gloi, etc), but it's equally as hydrating. The Vanilla Apricot scent is heavenly - it smells exactly like peach yogurt. I love that it doesn't feel thick or heavy (it rubs in easily), and it doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy or sticky - just ridiculously soft and moisturized. This is the perfect summer body moisturizer for dry skin or for transitioning from summer into the colder months.


The Best Bronzers for Fair Skin

I never used to have trouble finding a suitable bronzer for my skintone, especially growing up in southern California where even small, daily doses of sun helped maintain my medium complexion, but put this girl in a sunshine-less state for a few years, and the struggle was real. Whether you're the type that burns rather than tans, or you've simply chosen to embrace your porcelain complexion, this post is for you.
Clockwise from bottom left: Chanel, Rouge Bunny Rouge and Clarins

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour in No° 30 // This makes for a gorgeous, subtle bronzer for ladies around NC20, like myself. It seems orangey when swatched, but it never appears as such applied. It blends beautifully into the skin, and when I want a more dramatic bronzed effect, I use it as a base for a darker bronzer to make the build up in color as seamless as possible (seen here). 

Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Powder in At Goldcombe Bay // If I could only recommend one bronzer for fair skinned gals, it would be this one. It's cooler in tone, so you needn't worry about the oompa loompa effect, and while there is detectable shimmer in the pan, it really isn't visible on the skin at all. It has the perfect texture that's smooth but never powdery, and on top of it all, it's pigmented and blends well. RBR is one of those brands that you need to look into if you haven't already! Underrated doesn't even begin to describe it.

Clarins Bronzing Duo Mineral Powder Compact in 01 Light // This one is one that I don't love, but I'm giving it a mention anyway since I know there are a lot of people who do. For me, it's too pale, if you can imagine that. Shade-wise, it would probably be beautiful on the fairest of the fair - I'm talkin' NC10 and the like. It's like a paler version of the Chanel powder in No° 30. My beef with it, however, is the texture. Mine completely hardened at the surface after the first two uses and needed to be scored to make it usable again, hence why mine looks a bit mangled. Luckily, it hasn't happened again to quite the same extent since then, but it still makes me hesitant to use it.

L to R: Chanel Les Beiges in 30, RBR in At Goldcombe Bay and Clarins 01 Light (mixed)
Wearing Rouge Bunny Rouge in At Goldcombe Bay


A Tale of Two Eye Creams

After running out of my second tube of my beloved Pai Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream a few months ago, I came to the difficult conclusion that the time had come for me to try something new. Why, you ask? Well, it definitely wasn't because I didn't love it. Pai's offering is fantastic, and I enjoyed it down to the very last drop. I'd recommend it to just about anyone. 

Truth is, I've only tried a handful of eye creams in my day (all of which were samples of some sort, besides Pai's), and I just had one of those "How do I know it's the best if I haven't tried the rest?" kind of moments. 'Tis the mind of a beauty blogger, no? And that was how this tale began.

After doing a bit of research into various eye creams that fit my wish list criteria - moisturizing, thick enough for nighttime but not too heavy for daytime, sits well under makeup - I actually ended up going with one that had no reviews yet, since it was new at the time. I'd tried a few things from NUDE Skincare before and loved them all, so I basically put all my trust in the brand when I picked up their Advanced Renewal Eye Complex ($58 for 0.5 oz). I had such high hopes.

This eye cream claims to do every possible thing an eye cream can do and then some. Firm, nourish, moisturize, smooth wrinkles, tighten, revitalize and brighten. That's it? *skeptical eyes* It has a much lighter, thinner consistency than what I was after, and I found it not nearly hydrating enough when used overnight. My eye area felt bare and dehydrated come morning. One pump is more than you need for both eyes, and my eye area wasn't able to absorb it all in one go. I had to attempt to pat it all in under and around my eyes, wait about 20 seconds for some of it to absorb, then go back in and pat the rest in before my skin could actually soak it all up. It also needs time to set before you can apply under-eye concealer, otherwise, you're left with patchiness that's incredibly irritating when you're already running late. I went back and forth on this one quite a lot. Most days, I felt indifferent about it, as it's not terrible, but it definitely isn't great either. Final say? If indifference was free, I would've kept it and used it up; but, in this case, it cost me $58, so back to Sephora it went. Key ingredients: omega 3,6 and 9, hyaluronic acid, Polypeptide Repair Complex, CoQ10.

Just before it went back, I picked up the Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment ($38 for 0.35 oz), as recommended to me by Alison. Confession: I've become a bit of a skincare snob lately, and a part of me was skeptical about skincare products released by brands that are primarily focused on makeup. Yeah, Tarte makes great blushes, but eye cream? How could it possibly be that great? 

It's an eye treatment meant to hydrate, firm and brighten. I didn't care too much about the brightening claim, as I have concealers/brighteners/correctors for that, and honestly, I don't really buy it anyway. After using it, I can confirm that I've not yet seen any real difference in brightness, but I have noticed hydration and firming benefits. What I love most about Tarte's eye treatment is the texture. It's thick, creamy and luscious, but not heavy or greasy in the slightest. It absorbs quickly and creates the perfect canvas for makeup without requiring a waiting period, and when I use it at night, my eye area feels plump, supple and hydrated when I wake up. Compared to Pai Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream, Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment feels more water-based and slightly less heavy (though Pai's isn't exactly heavy either), but it's just as hydrating. It was love at first use with this baby. Key ingredients: Maracuja oil and vitamin C.

Though I had much higher expectations and was generally more excited about the NUDE Skincare Advanced Renewal Eye Complex, the Tarte Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment was the one that completely blew me away. The creamy texture and long-lasting hydration properties sans greasiness are exactly what I look for in a good eye cream. It chips away at my skincare brand snobbery little by little every time I use it ;)

What's your favorite eye cream?


The Fluid Mattes

So many brands seem to have their version of the once revolutionary matte liquid lipstick formula now, don't they? With silicones to ensure that smooth, velvety finish and bold, long-lasting pigments that make it possible to enjoy a cup of coffee without literally leaving your mark, what's not to love? Today, I'm breaking down four formulas for you, ranging from drugstore to luxury...
The budget buy // Unfortunately, the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream is the poorest performing of the four, but the $6 price tag makes it worth a mention. It applies rather streaky, settles a bit into lip lines (not incredibly noticeable unless you're up close) and needs at least two solid layers for opaque coverage. Its finish is the most matte of the bunch, and although it's comfortable for the first 2-3 hours or so, my lips start to feel desert-like soon thereafter. New to the matte liquid lipstick trend and not sure you're ready to commit? Give these a go. Antwerp, a rosy coral, is shown above. $6

The highly coveted // ....for us US folk anyway. The Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet is only available in the US via asos but seems to be out of stock quite often (5 shades in stock at the moment though!). These are nearly opaque in one coat, and though they don't apply quite as seamlessly as the next two, they absolutely hold their own against pricier options. My lips look plump and smooth with these on. The formula is fairly hydrating for the first several hours, at which point my lips slowly start to feel parched but continue to look great. Shown is Peach Club (lip swatch here), a bright orangey-peach with terracotta undertones. $17

The show-stopper // If neutral, pared-down shades are your thing, then the Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Creams are not. This range is chock-full of stunning, wildly pigmented bolds and brights that are sure to stand out in any makeup collection. The doe-foot applicator on this one is quite long and can make it a bit more difficult to achieve the type of precise application bright shades require. It doesn't get any more pigmented than this, and the color just lasts and lasts. And on top of it all, my lips feel comfortable the entire time I'm wearing it. A tiny set-back: It bleeds ever so slightly around the edges. I have (and freakin' love) Sancerre (lip swatch here), a deep raspberry. $28

The holy grail // If the perfect matte liquid lipstick existed, it would be in the form of Armani Lip Maestro. The formula is flawless. Believe me, I love it when I discover a budget item that outperforms its high-end counterparts, but that's just not the case here. This is opaque in one swipe and wears so smoothly on the lips that lip lines are virtually undetectable. My lips never dry out, and the color does not budge. The shade I have (401) (lip swatch here) is a sensational orange-toned red. $33

NYX Antwerp on the lips
Are you a fan of matte liquid lipsticks?


Perfecting the Bronze

With summer fast approaching, bronzed looks are bound to make a comeback, as they always do. Here are a few tips to ensure you achieve that perfect sunkissed summer glow.
Step 1 // Bronzer is your friend. Probably the most obvious step in a bronzed look, bronzer warms up the complexion, and with strategic placement on the areas of the face most exposed to the sun, it mimics a natural suntan, without the UV damage. Tip: Especially at the beginning of the season when most people are at their palest, I like using a powder (doesn't have to be a bronzer, per se) roughly one to two shades darker than my skin tone as a light base upon which to build up my bronzer. 

I used Chanel Les Beiges Powder in 30 as a base and applied it with the EcoTools Bronzer Brush to the top/sides of my forehead, down to my cheeks and jawline in the classic 3 shape. Then I added a bronzing powder (Guerlain Bronzing Powder in 04 Sun Blondes) to my cheeks, softly working it up to my temples, for a more defined glow. I topped it all off with just a touch of NARS Luster on the apples of the cheeks, as I find the shade works well to enhance a tan.

Step 2 // Ditch the brushes; long-wearing cream eyeshadow pencils are where it's at. Both more sweat-proof and water-resistant than powder shadows, pencils such as Milani Shadow Eyez and NYX Infinite Shadow Sticks (completely superior to their Jumbo Eye Pencils, by the way) are perfect for swiping on and blending out with fingers. With a summery bronze look, it's not about precision, so the less intentional, the better. Gold, champagne, brown and copper are all shade options that would complement this look.

I have on NYX Rose Gold all over my lid with L'Oreal Amber Rush patted on just in the center and Milani Brown Deluxe smudged into the upper and lower lash lines.

Step 3 // Bronze lips run the risk of leaning too brown and a bit 90's, but a peachy brown nude is the perfect adaptation. A touch of shine keeps the look fresh. 

I have on Maybelline ColorStay Moisture Stain in London Posh layered over MAC Patisserie to create the perfect combo. 

How do you pull off the summery bronze look?

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