You are gorgeous; you are beautiful; you are strong; you were born to be a member of our army.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winter Skin

While we were all mourning the loss of the great Justin Timberlake to Jessica Biel and watching all of the leaves fall off the trees, our skin was starting to dry out.  Fall and winter, as I'm sure you know, are rough times for our skin.  Between the elements and the heater, our skin turns from soft and smooth to dry and sometimes flaky.  One of the most important things you can do for your skin is to stay hydrated.  Even if you don't feel like drinking cold water on a cold day, drink water anyway because it helps keep your skin looking pretty.  It's also important to keep your bathwater lukewarm because hot water dries out skin.  Using gentle cleanser and rich moisturizers are also important.

TOCCA's Stella Bagno Profumato Body Wash and Crema Da Corpo Body Lotion are nice for everyday use for just about anybody.  TOCCA's paraben-free gentle cleanser conditions skin with olive oil, honey and candula extract.  Stella Crema da Corpo has natural extracts from sweet almond oil, shea butter and honey to moisturize and soothe winter dryness and sensitivity. Another benefit is that it absorbs quickly and nicely into the skin.

More Moisturizing

Bliss Naked Body Butter Maximum Moisture Cream has been their #1 body cream for over a decade.  Formulated for professional massages, it will seriously soften skin with coconut oil, lock in moisture with sodium hyaluronate and nourish with vitamin E.  Best of all, it has no smell so you can wear it anywhere or with any fragrance.
Most Moisturizing

Besides winning the Ladies' Home Journal's 'Do Good' stamp, Four Truffles Body Smoother and Body Butter are the perfect combination to fight seriously dry winter skin.  Four Truffles Body Smoother is a natural sugar scrub that gently smoothes away dry skin and contains botanical oils,  organic Argan Oil, Shea Butter, and olive oil to nourish skin.  Four Truffles Body Butter uses argan oil, olive oil, virgin coconut oil, aloe and vitamin E to keep skin summertime-soft.  I personally advise buying both with the body wash, which is great for those not-so-rough areas of skin along with the concentrated argan oil for super dry areas.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Present Guide for Candles

Heavily Scented Candle
Candles are always a popular gift.  The current shop favorite is Nest's Blue Garden.  We almost sold through our entire site just by leaving the candle burning in Battalions of Beauty.  The scent is light and floral, but the candle is heavily scented so you can actually smell it.  I've talked to several different customers in the past few weeks who have been searching for a candle that isn't just for decoration, and this is it.  Best of all, proceeds from the sale of Blue Garden candles are donated to Autism Speaks.

Most Elegant Candle
Baccarat designer Mathias Paris created a beautiful line of candles in some seriously elegant glass.  The container is venetian-style, hand-blown glass.  The fragrances range from hookah to freesia and are all beautiful and light enough to burn almost anywhere.  Best of all, when the candle is done, you have a beautiful glass to burn another candle in or just display.

Best Present Candle for Mom
If you're struggling for a gift for your mother, aunt or even grandmother, your safest bet is probably Lollia.  With popular shapes like feathers and diamonds and soft colors like teal and lavander, the packaging is traditionally beautiful without being overly proper or stale. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I should really rename this blog "My Recent Purchases" because I think I just end up buying everything I review.  The purchase of the day today was SachaJuan Straight and Shine Spray.  My hair is really, really curly so at the end of the day I think that my pin straight hair is due more to the $200 flat iron I abuse my hair with than the $20 I spent on straightening spray.  Because I enjoy abusing my hair in multiple ways (bleach, chlorine, sun, over washing, heat, etc) I'm freaked out about burning it all off and having to wear a wig or something.  Realistically I know that the chances of this actually happening are slim, but the chances of me damaging my hair and making it less shiny and healthy aren't so slim.  Whenever I straighten my hair or use heat, I like to use a protective coating on it to prevent damage.  I feel like I've tried a lot of products, but they've always had some sort of defect.  I don't like products with hold because they make it too difficult to straighten the curl out; I don't like products that you have to put in wet hair because how am I supposed to know if I'm going to want to straighten my hair in the morning?; I don't like anything sticky; I don't like anything with a weird smell; I don't want my hair to look like it's still wet; I don't like anything that weighs my hair down too much; and, most importantly, too many dance recital, piano recital and formal events as a child of the 90s (and a mother who thinks that one needs to put almost as much product and as many bobby pins as a synchronized swimmer) has instilled a healthy fear in me of brushing out over-hair sprayed, crunchy hair.

When I tried Straight and Shine Spray, I thought that I hadn't put enough on (see above sentence), but after I decided to shellac my head, I realized that the spray is just really light.  You serious barely notice it's there except for the fact that your hair is SO SHINY.  Now I know what you're thinking, I don't want my hair to look like it's still wet, but it doesn't.  You know when you see someone with black hair go out in the sunshine and their hair almost sparkles?  That's what it looks like!  Honestly, the Straight and Shine Spray is something that I kind of want to spray on my hair everyday because it makes it look so shiny and super healthy.  Well I'm off to go buy - er, I mean, review, yes review, some more products.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I can still remember one time in Junior High a cheerleader gave her boyfriend at the time a hug and her foundation smudged on his white shirt.  Horrified, he looked down at her and said, "Your mask wiped off on my shirt."  At 12 I wasn't allowed to wear face makeup, but the image of liquid foundation being a mask stuck with me well into college.  Even though it's actually foundation, I preferred mineral powder foundations to tinted moisturizer because I thought they let more of my skin show through, making me look more authentic and less like I was, in fact, wearing a mask.  In college I started experimenting with tinted moisturizer and even some liquid foundation.  I wasn't worried about my makeup wiping off so much as looking like a mask on my skin.  I started experimenting with different "masks" in college, and all of them looked harsh or strange on my skin.  I am quite pale, but I have yellow undertones in my skin that make me look as though I should tan better than I do.  Because my pale skin isn't the pale pink that most light skin is, I've had trouble matching it.  I also wanted my makeup to hide blemishes, but leave the few freckles I have on my face.  Most of all, I wanted my makeup to let my skin show through.  As one of the makeup artists for Ellis Faas later summed up perfectly, "I want people to tell me I have beautiful skin, beautiful eyes, beautiful lips and a beautiful face; I don't want people to say, 'you are wearing beautiful makeup.'"  And . . . drum roll please . . . I don't want to touch it up all day because realistically, I'm not going to. 

The first liquid foundation I've truly liked is aptly named "Skin Veil."  Ellis Faas refuses to call it a foundation because she wants it to look like a more beautiful version of your skin.  For me, that's what makeup, particularly face makeup (foundation, blush, bronzer, etc), is all about.  I want a natural look on my skin, even if I'm rocking a crazy, purple, smoky cat eye with serious Ke$ha glitter and fire-engine red lips.  I also definitely want subtle face makeup for everyday and occasions like job interviews.  The nice thing about Skin Veil is that it does look like your skin.  It covers up blemishes and can be applied very lightly over freckles without looking splotchy and makeup-y.  Having suffered from acne as a teenager I feel uncomfortable when people stare at my skin.  The first time a woman walked up to me and said, "You have beautiful skin," I thought of the Ellis Faas makeup artist's words, and I knew Skin Veil was the best liquid foundation I would ever find.  While old habits die hard and I don't wear liquid foundation every day, Skin Veil is my go to for dates, job interviews and whenever I want to look my best.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I graduated college in June, moved out of my college apartment in July, moved home in August and turned twenty-two yesterday.  Twenty-two is tough because you're supposed to act like a serious adult (get a "real job" that will lead to a "rewarding career", save up to buy a condo, have a serious relationship, think about kids) but also be a kid (have fun with your friends, go on vacation, play the slots in Vegas).  I've read books and seen images that capture this period, but the scent I've found that best captures this time in my life is Romantina. 

Honestly, it's easy to find a good scent.  At a certain point everything just kind of smells like flowers, right?  I'm big on wearing a new scent everyday, but I think Romantina is perfect for everyday.  The Juliet Has a Gun website describes it as, "an ode to insouciance," and I think that's exactly what I want right now.  For me, twenty-two isn't about focusing on not having a permanent career, serious relationship or house.  Twenty-two is about the freedom of not having a set schedule, boyfriend to check in with or mortgage to pay. 

Romantina is musty and mysterious, but also has familiar elements of orange blossom and vanilla.  It's light and playful enough to wear everyday, but it has the presence and beauty to be taken seriously.  Romantina captures the best parts about the early twenties.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I'm pretty much a sucker for anything my hair stylist tells me I need.  I like to keep my hair long and blonde.  I also I enjoy swimming in cholorinated pools, being outside in the sun, changing my hair color from red to brown to blonde, and abusing my hair in general.  I have a cabinet of Bumble & Bumble, Kerastase, John Frieda and pretty much every defrizzing, strengthening magic potion you can think of.  I can say that my favorite purchase was my ghd straightener.  I have seriously curly hair and it takes the curl right out.  My favorite product and latest "discovery" (It was, not surprisingly, a recommendation.) is Sachajuan.  I love the Silver Shampoo and Conditioner to keep my hair blonde.  I also like to mix it up with the Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner to add extra shine and strength.  Another great product from the line is Ocean Mist, which lets me blow dry some beachy texture into my waves when I haven't set foot near the sea.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great Debate

There seems to be a generational lipstick/lip gloss gap.  I'm pretty sure anyone over the age of 30 refuses to wear lip gloss, and anyone under the age of 30 refuses to wear lip stick everyday.  My mom thinks gloss is too sticky and too shiny, and I think lipstick is too heavy for everyday use.  ILIA Pure Lip Care has addressed this concern with a "Lip Conditioner."  ILIA has the feel of a lipstick but moisturizes like a balm and goes on smooth like gloss.  It comes in a variety of colors, but my favorite is Arabian Nights, a berry shade that is surprisingly wearable due to the fact that it's a tint and not a lipstick.  My mom's favorite is Nobody's Baby, a light pink that she can wear everyday.  They all go on very different than standard lipstick, and I would highly suggest ordering at least one, even if it's just to try it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfume Leather Jacket

At first glance it's pretty difficult to believe that the packaging above from CoSTUME NATIONAL comes from a company with a website like this.  The clean, black bottle with the sans-serif font looks pretty fancy (dare I say corporate?) at first, but after you smell the inside, you realize that it's no flair, stripped-down, every-great-think-about-punk-rock-in-a-bottle.  Stronger than almost any other perfume I've tried (barring the overly floral ones that make me smell suspiciously like my grandmother), CoSTUME NATIONAL SCENT INTENSE really deserves its CAPS LOCK lettering and claim to being "a punk rock no-holds-barred amber and woods beast".  I put it on.  It smelled great.  It lasted all day.  It's my new leather jacket of perfumes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

The hardest person to shop for in my life is without a doubt my mother.  She's picky and seems to have everything she needs.  She's threatened to throw away any more knickknacks we buy her and owns almost everything from Sur La Table.  This Mother's Day I decided to buy her stuff she likes and has run out of or owns in a different color.  Here is a list of mom-approved things:

Top Row
1. Bliss Glamour Gloves - This is one of those presents that I end up buying two of because I just can't get enough of it!  They're especially nice if your mom does a lot of gardening in the summer.
2. ILIA Nobody's Baby - This is my mom's favorite lipstick because it's not really a lipstick, but a lip conditioner.  This shade is also sheer and perfect for everyday wear.
3. Beauty Blender - This is a nice addition to any gift basket.  It makes putting on foundation or tinted moisturizer so much easier and faster.
4. Lollia Calm Shea Butter Handcreme - My mom keeps this on her nightstand.

Bottom Row
1. Lollia In Love Sea Salt Sachet - Perfect gift of relaxation for after the Mother's Day festivities.
2. Mathias Paris Freezia/ Freesia Candle - My mom doesn't own this one yet, but I loved it enough for the both of us.  Seriously though, can you ever really go wrong with venetian-inspired hand blown glass?
3. Pevonia lumafirm Repair Cream Lift & Glow - Word on the street is that this is some pretty amazing stuff.  We gave samples to the hairdressers across the street and their clients started coming into the shop to buy it because they were so impressed!  Pevonia says that 100% of participants in a recent study were satisfied with the immediate lightening effect and felt their complexion looked uniformly smoother and visibly brighter, and I believe it!
4. Bliss Softening Socks -  These are the same deal as the Bliss Glamour Gloves, and I love them!  They're even more important to my mom in the summer because she wears sandals or goes barefoot most of the time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Breakfast Club Bag

I love getting compliments.  I think it's why we buy half of the stuff we do.  Today I was complimented on my Jessica Kagan Cushman bag.  Since it was filled with all of my clothes for cycling later that day, I struck up a conversation and made a new friend.  I think that's what a good bag is all about.  That and being big enough to fit enough of your stuff in so you can pretend you're Allison Reynolds from the Breakfast Club.  I mean, you never know when you have to jam.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

OK, I'm Sold

So I've been trying to apply liquid foundation for about five years now with mixed results.  I only wear it on special occasions (I wear either powder foundation or tinted moisturizer.) so it's always a little more difficult for me and takes a little longer to do than putting on mascara or everything else I do everyday.  (You definitely don't want to watch me put on fake eyelashes, people.  Seriously, they're my white whale.)  A lot of people have told me to put foundation on with my fingers, but it looks streaky and uneven. I ended up settling on sponges, but I find they're difficult to use near my nose.  I know half of you beauty geniuses are rolling your eyes like I'm one of those infomercial ladies who say things like, "Is your stove too difficult to use?" but it seriously took me an entire week to adjust to my new ghd flatiron.  Point being nothing is too easy for me in the world of beauty that I can't make it difficult.  I've had a beauty blender sitting in my drawer for a few weeks, but I had never had the chance to use it.  I bought Ellis Faas's Skin Veil, and I tried to apply it with my fingers.  My skin was so dry it sucked half of it up, and, not surprising, what was left was a blotchy mess.  I made a phone call to my beauty experts and they asked me if I was using moisturizer everyday and if I had tried my Beautyblender yet.  I said no, applied some moisturizer and tried the Beautyblender.  (All while I was on the phone I might add!)  It ended up working great!  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use, especially around the nose.  My moisturized skin also didn't suck up the makeup in the same way, allowing me to apply it more evenly.
My tips for easy liquid foundation application are:
1.) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
2.) Make sure you're using the right color (duh)
3.) Use an application method that works for you (for me it's the Beautyblender)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

For the Bridesmaids

Shopping for bridesmaids can be just as difficult as shopping for a bride I'm told.  Having never been married I consulted some of my recently married friends, bridesmaids and Maids of Honor for their favorite gifts to give and receive.  A few of the brides I talked to said they gave their bridesmaids spa baskets by filling a bag (Jessica Kagan Cushman's "Don't Touch My Junk" Tote is perfect for your Annie and Helen.) with a certificate to a local spa, bubble bath, a candle, lip balm and moisturizing balm.  A bridesmaid said that she really appreciated a "Bridesmaid Pack" that the thoughtful bride created for the Vegas bachelorette party including sparkly glitter eyeshadow, fake eyelashes and everyone's favorite chick flick Bridesmaids.  One Maid of Honor said that her best friend gave all of her bridesmaids matching bracelets from Tiffany & Co.

Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Bachelorette

It seems like every spring a stack of wedding invitations arrives in the mail and even though finding wedding presents for the happy couple is as easy as buying some of the 5,000 towels they registered for, finding presents for the bride for the events leading up to the wedding can be difficult.  My friends who currently are or have recently been Maids of Honor or bridesmaids have found this task particularly daunting.  They felt obligated to bring the bride something for the bachelorette party.  Nothing major, but something small and authentic to show that they were thinking about her in addition to the boas and tiaras and Ke$ha amounts of glitter.  I thought, "What could be better than a bag of fun makeup goodies for a last hot night out?"  TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixir not only goes with the red hot theme, but is Cherry Bourbon flavored and scented with notes of cherry brandy, whisky, aged wood and clove.  Scotch Naturals in Kiltlifter may be bad girl red, but you don't need to feel badly about buying it because it's non-toxic (it doesn't contain any of the chemicals found in traditional polish or the chemical smell) and eco-friendly.  You really can't go wrong with lashes named "Flair" for any kind of night out.  Also, I included a great mascara to wear under the fake lashes because it will make them look even better.  TokyoMilk Dead Sexy is perfect for a last hurrah because it lives up to its name, yet it's subtle enough to wear everyday.  (Seriously, I wear it almost everyday.)  And - drumroll please - the pièce de résistance is a Jessica Kagan Cushman bag.  I can't think of any tiara or boa that says "Do you have any idea who I am?" quite as well as this bag, and that's what the bachelorette party is all about, right?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ciao Bella!

I just returned from six months of studying (and shopping!) in Bologna, Italy at Europe’s oldest university (which is not-so-coincidentally a short train ride away from Milan!) to say that I still have not found a better gloss than TOCCA’s Baci Lip Gloss.  Having long traded gloss for Burt’s Bees to avoid the feeling of superglue on my lips, I thought I was done with what I considered a sticky mess forever.  That was before I was introduced to Baci gloss.  In Italian, “tocca” means “touch” and “baci” means kisses, and the product lives up to the hype.  It goes on smooth like chapstick but has the prettiness and shine of gloss.  It comes in Apple-Lemon (Amalfi), Sweet Sugar Vanilla (Catania) and the flavor that never leaves my bag, Raspberry-Peach (Salina).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Japonesque Pink Heated Eyelash Curler

Having an immense fear of traditional eyelash curlers makes getting ready for special occasions tough.  I say special occasions because I’m hesitant to use a traditional eyelash curler for big events, let alone everyday.  I don’t mind gluing false eyelashes on or lining the inside of my eye, but I do fear that tiny torture device lurking in my bag.  Fortunately I discovered the Japonesque Pink Heated Eyelash Curler, a small eyelash curler made for hard to curl lashes and people who are terrified of eyelash curlers.  It’s pink, tiny and works better on my eyelashes than an unheated curler.  Another great part about it is that you can apply it before or after mascara.