Beauty Dish

April 6, 2017

Now that I am in week 36 of my pregnancy, I have a long-established routine with my skin that I have been consistently practicing and loving. Adapting a new routine with new products geared towards my changing skin and body wasn't all that hard...I have always been pretty regimented with my skincare routine and never skip a full face washing (and toning and moisturizing), no matter how tired I may be. Everything I use on my skin is safe to use while pregnant and have been working really well to treat/prevent various skin situations that typically arise during pregnancy. So excited to share what have become my tried and true pregnancy skincare savors and essentials!

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil ($64): Stretchmarks often come hand in hand with pregnancy and many people swear that they are hereditary and therefore nothing can actually prevent them. I have yet to develop any through the years, and figured that it wouldn’t hurt to use treatments to potentially prevent them if I could. And, at 36 weeks, my belly is a full fledged basketball and has been stretched to the max. With regular (daily) use of Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil, I have yet to see a single stretch mark so I am now a firm believer in the stuff. My friend Hannah was the one who recommended the oil to me after loving it during both of her pregnancies. I have continued to replenish it throughout mine and now consider it a must have! (also find it here, here, and here)

Eminence Organics Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum ($41): I’ve never had any sort of pigmentation/melasma issues with my facial skin until I was about 30 weeks pregnant when it just decided to appear one morning. Nothing drastic, but definitely some pigmentation that I noticed – otherwise referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”. I can’t say that my situation resembles a mask, but regardless, I wanted to be sure that I was using products to target what was going on. I discovered Eminence’s Licorice Serum through House of Preservation as being a pregnancy-safe way to even out one’s skin tone. The reviews on Amazon are amazing and many of them were written by pregnant women which immediately sold me. So far I’ve been using the product for a month now, both morning and night, after cleansing and toning and can say that I’ve truly seen a difference. My hope is that the pigmentation will go away after pregnancy/breastfeeding and once my hormones are back to normal!

UMA Brightening Face Oil ($150) and Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185): Both morning and night, I finish my skincare routine with an oil or serum. I rotate between three different oils/serums to make them last me as long as possible. In addition to the True Botanicals routine I wrote about here (which I am still absolutely loving), I rotate between that and UMA’s Brightening Face Oil and Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. All three of these are such high quality oils/serums that I know I am giving my skin the absolute best. I honestly could not apply makeup/tinted moisturizer to my skin without having put one of these on beforehand. It makes everything glide on that much smoother and gives my skin a certain glow. But I also love those days where I don’t wear any makeup and my skin gets to soak up alll of the goodness all day long. At night, I make sure to do this last step a little while before my head hits the pillow so that the products can really sink in and work their magic.

True Botanicals Nourishing Lotion ($42): I’ve always had extremely sensitive skin, but those sensitivities have multiplied with being pregnant! My generally dry skin has become dryer and I have to be very mindful of what I am using on my body skin. I swear that using a non-toxic moisturizer like True Botanicals Nourishing Lotion has been a game changer and my strange sensitivities like itchiness while wearing workout pants have disappeared. I basically apply it everywhere that I don’t use the Clarins Oil and my skin remains moisturized throughout the day, which hardly ever happens to me. I’ve also loved using the True Botanicals Body Balm on my belly once a day – in addition to the Clarins Oil – the smell is beyond.

Majestic Pure Coconut Milk Body Scrub ($14.50): I realized over halfway through being pregnant that regular exfoliation can also help with stretch mark prevention. At one point I read that doing this is just as important as it is to moisturize. It also helps all of the moisturizing you’re doing really absorb into the skin. I came across this Coconut Milk Scrub on Amazon and am completely obsessed. It doesn’t hurt that I love all things coconut, but it also does an unreal job of exfoliating and leaving my skin beyond soft after each use. The fact that it is 100% natural makes me confident in using it almost daily, too!

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Beauty Dish

June 30, 2016

"What are these?" [holds up a bag with 3 lemons]
"You asked for lemons. What my baby wants my baby gets. You know that."
"There are 3 lemons. I asked for 12. Baby wanted 12."
"Why would you want 12 lemons?"
Exchange between Brooke and Gary from The Break-Up

I know it's kind of a sad movie but I love The Break-Up. Conversations like the above or my favorite quote "I want you to want to do the dishes!" feel so real to me...expectations, disappointments, love, and sarcasm. Any time I see a bunch of lemons I replay the above scene in my head and either get annoyed or delighted thinking about the differences between women and men. Because while we might not always be understood, women usually know what we want. This is all a round-about way of introducing two beauty products that I had been looking for as a way to fill a void in my routine. I knew what I wanted, and after rounds of testing and a few disappointments, I finally found a cleansing oil and sunless tanning lotion that exceeded my expectations.


CosMedix Purity Solution ($35): Cleansing oils have been a thing for a while now. Most promise to dissolve make-up without stripping the skin – making it an ideal first step in your skincare routine. I’m all for a two-step cleansing routine but all the oil cleansers I found were so oily that even with a follow-up cleanse and lots of water they never seemed to actually dissolve. For someone like me who hates feeling greasy this was a big problem. While at Houston’s Milk & Honey Spa (such a great spot – try it if you haven’t yet!) I was getting a facial and the aesthetician was talking to me about products she loves and what she was using on my skin…she mentioned CosMedix’s Purity Solution as being the best cleansing oil because when applied to dry skin it removes make-up, sunscreens, oils, and dirt then rinses clean with water. You don’t say? I wouldn’t have to follow-up with another cleanser if I didn’t want to? I took a bottle home with me and have been using it every night since. Yes, it’s a true oil and one that you massage on dry skin, but once emulsified with water it truly does rinse completely off your skin. And because the oils used are Argan, Moringa and Olive Oil your skin is left clean but super hydrated. I love how it smells and how it works. I do follow-up with another cleanser but only because I’m a freak and enjoy lots of steps. I’m already on my second bottle of the solution which is a true testament of how much I love it! (also find it here)

Clarins Self Tanning Milky-Lotion ($38): At the beginning of spring I asked of my beauty gurus, Kathleen Jennings of Beauty Now app, what her favorite sunless tanning product was. She said for face (which is what I was specifically looking for) she loves Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster. By adding a small amount of the glow booster to your daily moisturizer and mixing the two before applying, your face gets some sun-kissed action. Knowing that Clarins is infamous for their faux tan formulas I was totally down to give it a go. And I was *this* close to buying Kathleen’s suggestion (she’s never steered me wrong before) but then I caught sight of Clarins Self Tanning Milky-Lotion and after spending an embarrassing amount of time in Nordstrom deliberating which of the two to get, I took home the Milky-Lotion. Yes, I find the name a little off-putting (milky. why, Clarins? why?) but the consistency of the lotion and the nice smell felt less daunting to me than the glow booster. After an evening shower with my face prepped from a little exfoliation action, I was ready to get my glow on. The lotion can be used for both body and face so I took it from my face down to my chest so that the whole area would look even. After washing my hands – the most necessary step when doing any self tanning – I waited a few minutes before getting dressed and then I waited. By bedtime I still hadn’t noticed a glow but when I woke up in the morning I saw the subtle hint of tan I was wanting. Nothing crazy dark or drastic, but noticeable enough to make a difference and match the rest of my body (I’ll let my body get a tan but never my face and chest). What I love most about the formula – aside from the fact that it doesn’t smell bad or make my skin breakout – is that it lasts for a few days or can be built up with follow-up applications for more color. I use it two or three nights a week rather than every day and I love how I’m not a slave to maintaining the subtle glow. I’m still intrigued by the Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster and part of me wants to try it since I’d probably be using it during the day with my SPF vs. how I use the Milky-Lotion at night…I’d let you all know if I give it a go! (you can also find the Clarins Milky-Lotion herehere & here!)

P.S. Kathleen recently did a guest post on Wear + Where + Well divulging her summer skin routine and must-have (including the glow booster!) and it’s definitely worth reading…she’s tried just about everything and is so knowledgeable when it comes to all things skin and beauty! (also find it herehere & here!)

Pieces From The Post

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Beauty Dish

April 17, 2016

Long time no Beauty Dish post, huh? Honestly, these posts are among my favorite to create. But the reason Sally and don't have a new one each week is because we really only post what we have tried, tested and truly love, love, love. Whether it's drug-store budget buys (hey, hey), an investment serum, or daily favorites that are being showcased - you can trust that we're only dishing products we can't live without. Today I have what I consider to be tiny but mighty must-haves, both of which have been rocking my face off. Literally.

Renée Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment ($42.50): acne, adult acne, breakouts, blemishes…and the worst of them (as far as I’m concerned), cystic acne. Let’s just say that I’ve had my fun with all the aforementioned skin conditions. Wouldn’t wish ’em on my worst enemy…feeling like you have bad-looking skin can debilitating and humiliating. Lately (for the past 2-3 weeks) I have been having crazy breakouts and I’m chalking it up to a final round of skin purging that’s still happening since using the Active Botanical Serum by Vintner’s Daughter and some intense emotional stress that’s worked itself onto my face. For years I have been notorious for picking at my skin. Gross I know – but I’m sure some of you out there can empathize with the urge to pinch, pop, and pick, pick, pick whether it’s something small or huge on your face.

I figured “better out than in” when it came to picking, but after working with many talented estheticians I now know better. So now I try to sit on my hands and conceal with makeup until the blemish is actually ready to be gently released. However, I never really knew anything about blemishes aside from the “no pick” rule till Renée Rouleau (my skin “spirit animal”) told me and Sally the real deal…you can read everything I’m about to summarize in Renée’s super helpful blog post here, but basically, blemishes are an infection under the skin that wants to come out and most (i.e. most all) blemish spot-treatments try out the surface and trap the infection, making it stay longer.

The best thing you can do is let the blemish do it’s thing and work it’s way to the surface in the form of a yucky whitehead that can then be gently squeezed out. But…I can’t just not do anything! Renée, being the genius and skin educated goddess she is, realizes that many of us have this “I gotta put something on it” mentality and luckily she has the perfect product: her Anti-Cyst Treatment. Not only does this clear, thin gel work miracles on cystic acne spots – but it can also be used to help heal and reduce inflation of regular blemishes.

I order the Anti-Cyst Treatment over Easter weekend when Sally advised me that it legitimately works wonders and after using it on both cysts and blemishes I can say that it is the real deal. No, it’s not going to make a blemish or cyst disappear immediately but there’s nothing that can do that. What it does do is cut healing time in half, diminish redness and swelling, and aid the blemish infections to reach the surface of the skin faster. Highly, highly recommend. The best part? The formula is so light but a little goes a long way and even though it glides on like water, it truly does the job and wont irritate or dry out your pretty little face! Once the infection’s out, follow up with the Post-Breakout Fading Gel so that those dark marks won’t stick around.

P.S. Renée is always publishing incredibly helpful and informative posts to her blog so make sure you subscribe to her e-newsletter or check back regularly to see what she’s published!

Sara Happ ‘The Lip Slip’ One Luxe Gloss ($18): I’m a nude lip kinda girl. Give me light and natural 99% of the time and that other 1% I’ll bring the boldness with a ruby red or burgundy wine stain. Since I’ve recently gotten a few of you leaving questions on the blog comments and via Instagram asking what I wear on my lips, I figured it was a good time to share…my go-to product right now is ‘The Lip Slip’ One Luxe Gloss by Sara Happ.

Don’t know who Sara is? Well I was in the dark too until just before the new year but she’s made it her mission to develop lip products that do what the promise…what her promises is goods that exfoliate, hydrate and heal. I’m a gal who has tried a looooot of lip balms and glosses (they are a favorite impulse buy) but since trying Sara’s Lip Scrub (I use the Peony), Lip Slip, and Luxe Gloss I can say that I haven’t felt the need to impulse buy or swipe my lips with anything other than those three products.

The best part about the Lip Slip is that it’s an insane dose of moisture (side note, you almost want to eat it tastes so good) that can be worn all day and at bedtime. It has no color, just shine and wonderful balminess (if that’s even a word). The One Luxe Gloss has the same formula as the Lip Slip just with more shine and in a tube that’s easier to swipe on the lips. Thus, I have the One Luxe Gloss with me at all times and am pretty much always wearing it. It gives the perfect “naked lip,” glossy pout!

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Beauty Dish

March 15, 2016

Molly and I mentioned this face serum in our first "Current Vibes" post. Called the Active Botanical Serum by Vintner's Daughter, I first heard about it from my bestie and natural skincare fanatic, Hannah. Like me and Molly, she has battled with her skin for years - constantly searching for products that will combat acne and breakouts without drying or irritating. Sounds so simple...but between me, Molly, and Hannah we have probably tried dozens upon dozens of products (both natural and otherwise) that don't deliver on promises. Not only is this trial and error expensive, it's also incredibly frustrating. So let's just say that when Hannah told me that she tried the Vintner's Daughter serum and it literally changed her skin overnight I perked up and started Googling as much about it as I could. There's a lot of write-ups out there that will do their part to convince you how great this oil is (ForbesgoopInto The Gloss, and my fave on Bare Beauty)...this is just my take on what my skin went through and what I love about it!


Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185): Let me guess, the first thing you’re thinking is, “$185 for oil? WTF.” And trust me – as someone living in San Fransisco and always on a budget I can sympathize with the cringe that comes when you look at the price tag. No, this stuff is not cheap so let’s not pretend that it is. But hold my hand here…I want to tell you that a) you get what you pay for, b) this stuff is liquid gold, c) a little goes a long way, and d) it is worth every penny. So now that we’ve had that pep talk I’ll try to explain why one ounce is nearly $200…

The founder and creator of Vintner’s Daughter, April Gargiulo, is also a winery owner (hence the name – a vintner is a wine maker or merchant). She started taking a closer look at her personal skincare when pregnant and learned that most all of the products she was using “contained high levels of ineffective, toxic fillers.” This might be a good time for me to mention that I’m not necessarily against products that contain smart science (re: chemicals) but when they don’t even deliver results and the chemicals can yield cumulative damage on our systems? That’s just wrong. Driven by her desire to bring toxin-free alternatives into her skin routine, April started researching what was available. She found was that many all-natural products often smelled good but didn’t deliver active/real results that could address the personal skin issues she was looking to improve(fine lines and wrinkles, acne, elasticity, and general radiance). So April did what many women wouldn’t – she threw herself into creating a “hero” product that was natural and effective.

April worked with natural skincare veterans and spent two years researching and formulating until Vintner’s Daughter produced Active Botanical Serum. Now we get to the price part…Vintner’s Daughter sources the world’s finest raw ingredients from conscious growers and “honors these ingredients through an exacting and time-honored formulation process.” Active Botanical Serum contains 22 of the world’s most active organic and wildcrafted botanicals –

You can read all about the ingredients (phytonutrients, phytoceramides, nourishing fatty-acids, powerful anti-oxidants, and a selection of targeted essential oils) but I’ve broken out the main benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory: won’t irritate or inflame skin
  • Fights signs of aging: wrinkles and fine lines elasticity
  • Firms and improves skin elasticity: the skin’s ability to stretch and then go back to normal once the need to stretch is gone. Elasticity is a fact of aging for most people.
  • Stimulates cellular turnover: our skin produces new skin cells which travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then shed off the skin. This is what keeps dead cells from building up on the skins surface. As we age, our skin turnover rate slows.
  • Strengthens capillaries: capillaries are the dilated small vessels near the surface of the skin
  • Inhibits melanin production: melanin is the pigment produced when we expose our skin to UV radiation (sun). Can reduce in long-term discoloration and dark spots on the skin.
  • Protects against free-radical damage: Free radicals can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules and can cause damage when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs.

In summary: The small particle size of Active Botanical Serum allows “active botanicals to deeply penetrate skin’s layers and because the skin fully recognizes the plant actives as the nutritive building blocks of its own structure, skin becomes more healthy, radiant and youthful.”


Here’s how I use the product…after washing face I put 4-6 drops (even though the directions say 6-8, I don’t need that much) in my palm, rub both palms together, and press the oil onto my face. Unlike some other oil serums I’ve tried, Vintner’s Daughter absorbs rather quickly and by the time I get in bed at night or am ready to put my makeup on in the morning, it has completely absorbed into my skin.

Here’s what I noticed when I first started using it…first of all, it smells incredible. Waking up in the morning after using it for the first time the night before I noticed that all of the small blemishes on my face were all but erased (redness gone, irritation gone). Woohoo! After a few days of using the serum day and night my skin started to breakout but not like it typically does. I got massive underground, cystic blemishes on my forehead and got about a dozen small, surface-ready whiteheads pop up also. I freaked out and asked the spa where I got the serum if this was normal and they assured me that because of the powerful, rich anti-oxidants my skin was riding itself of trapped toxins and. While this purging process wasn’t ideal, it lasted about 3 weeks and then my skin was absolutely perfect. Perfect! I have never ever said that in my life and typically always have one blemish or frustrating breakout I’m dealing with. But consistent use (and I’ve been using it now for six weeks) has only improved how my face looks and as someone who has felt the debilitating reality that is “problem skin” I’ve never been happier.

Truthfully, I would have paid the same amount for a product that wasn’t free of toxins and contained all the chemicals if it did the same thing to my skin. The fact that Vintner’s Daughter is able to deliver such incredible results and it’s natural is just amazing and what makes the $185 well worth it (in my personal opinion). Molly and I now call this our Unicorn Tears and we’ve been telling everyone about it who will listen. Now go forth…save your cash and buy some of your own. If you’re still hesitant, consider that you may spend $185 on a pair of jeans, shoes, dress, etc. and none of those purchases can probably be used twice a day and won’t change your life/skin in the way that this will. Mic drop.

*NOTE: Vintner’s Daughter is currently sold out of the serum on their site (they will be shipping again between March 22-27 and are offering free shipping if you order now and wait for the re-stock)!

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Beauty Dish

February 29, 2016

If pairing food and makeup together is wrong, I don't want to be right. Donuts and lashes happen to be two of my favorite things and I figured they needed to be together in this post - at least in the photography sense. No, I don't usually make a habit of eating donuts while tending to my eyelashes. But I do enjoy eating donuts of all varieties almost as much as I love answering the questions I frequently get about my lashes. All of the products in this post are ones that I am genuinely obsessed with - some of which I have been using for 5+ years - and they have all featured on the blog at one time or another. But the lash questions keep coming and thus, I wanted to bring all my favorites together today and go over again what makes them so great in my opinion.


neuLASH ($95-150): as much as I love (love, love, love) thick, long, luscious eyelashes, I have yet to try getting lash extensions. I’m sure someday I will succumb to the expensive habit that yields the best transformative results – but till then I’ll continue to use neuLASH. I’ve been using this growth serum since 2011 and continue to see results without any weird side effects (like discoloration or irritation). Yes: if you stop using it consistently the length and fullness will gradually subside. But if you are diligent about using it every night (especially for the first three months) you will see amazing results that will have people asking you if your lashes are extensions. Using it is super easy…just use the small brush applicator to glide the clear formula to the base of your upper eyelashes. It dries fairly quickly and then you go to bed and forget about it. Repeat. The price tag seems hefty but the larger size tube will last several months and when you compare the cost to that of extensions there is no contest in the savings!

Givenchy Mister Lash Booster ($32): I’ve been using Mister Lash Booster for almost exactly a year and it’s been a game-changer (especially when used in conjunction with neuLASH). It’s described as the three-in-one formula that nourishes and strengthens lashes, acts as a primer, and can stand alone as a clear mascara. After reading tons of the reviews on it’s growth, thickening, and strengthening results I started using it at night right after neuLASH and saw nearly immediate (think next morning) payoff. The application is different in that the specialized applicator is flat with small rubber bristles – a twist of the bottom of the tube sends the formula through the top of the applicator and you massage the small bristles from root to tip along the upper lash line and then along the bottom lashes. It sounds much more complicated than it is (I promise that if Sally and I can figure it out, you can too). The massage action is suppose to be the key to the product’s results but I think it’s consistent use that will have you seeing thicker, stronger, longer lashes. One tube should last you about two months – at least that’s what I’ve seen with mine – but less if you use during the day along with at night.

Maybelline Mega Plush Mascara ($5.69): truthfully, mascara and I have a love/hate relationship. I love that it makes my lashes look longer and thicker but I hate that it gets on my upper eyelid and sometimes on my under-eye area. Try to and minimize the amount of transfer that happens (those dumb black smudges I was just talking about) I strictly use waterproof mascara formulas. I love less smudging but I hate that I have to use remover to take it off before washing my face. After trying tons and tons of various waterproof formulas, Maybelline’s Mega Plush has remained my very favorite. As Maybelline’s first gel-mousse formula it has almost half the amount of hard waxes of typical mascaras so lashes don’t have a stiff, brittle look or feel. I love how it glides on without clumping and can have a light/natural feel or be built up with multiple coats for a thicker, fuller look. I use it on my top lashes and although I sometimes see transfer (usually if I’m applying in a humid spot) I never, ever have an issue with flaking. The price makes it such that I replace as soon as I notice dryness – which is about every 4-5 weeks depending on how much I am using it (I try not to wear mascara every day!).

Estée Lauder Little Black Primer ($24): after years of putting mascara on my top and bottom lashes, I took a long break from putting anything on my lower lashes because it was starting to look like too much with how long both my upper and lower lashes were getting. But I was starting to miss the added dimension I got from the bit of tint and thickness on my bottom fringe. On a whim, I tried putting Estée Lauder Little Black Primer on my lower lashes because the formula is so nice and light I figured it wouldn’t be too overpowering. I was right! The product is designed to be a tinted, waterproof primer that can be used on its own, layered under a favorite mascara for added volume, or on top of a mascara for a waterproof seal. I typically only put it on my bottom lashes (the teeny tiny brush makes it ideal for getting right up to the root) and love what it’s done for my lash game. And of course, I wouldn’t be using it if it caused any smudges or flaking. The only downside is that like my other waterproof formulas, it has to be removed with…remover. For that job my favorites are this and this.

Maybelline Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara ($7.49): so I love my Mega Plush – it really is the best – but when I want BAM! lashes instantly and don’t want to spend the time applying coat, after coat, after coat I use Maybelline’s Falsies Push Up Drama. A few wiggles across the upper lash line from root to tip and it looks like I have on a strip of false lashes. I guess that’s where they got the name from? Just a fair warning if you decide to try Falsies: it is a thick formula so applying slowly and carefully is best if you want to avoid getting it everywhere or having your lashes clump. The brush helps with separation but I sometimes follow behind with a safety pin to get the best look possible (I know, I know – this is absurd but I’m very careful and vain and I just don’t mind the extra effort). This is the stuff I wear when I shoot blog photos and for nights out.

Tarte Eyelash Curler ($16): mascara is nothing if it’s not used on already-curled lashes. I never believe formulas that promise curl without the help of a tool – I just don’t get how that could be possible and have never seen it happen myself – so prepping with a curler is the easiest way to get an eye-opening that will stay put once you follow with mascara. I haven’t tried every lash curler out there but I have tried several that promise to be the best and have found that Tarte’s Eyelash Curler actually is the best. Why you ask? It gives an actual curl – not an “L” shaped crimp – with just one or two light pumps. It’s great quality – meaning you can travel with it, use it everyday, and generally do your best to use and abuse it and it will stand up to wear and tear. I’ve replaced mine once in three years and have no complaints.

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