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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Beauty Dish

February 3, 2016

You want to know what makes this Beauty Dish great? All the products can be found at Target and they're great for anyone and everyone. I did a Target run yesterday and after adding toilet cleaner and Oxiclean to my basket I happily skipped around the beauty aisles for a good 10 minutes. I love that for me, Target shopping is nothing if not equal parts utilitarian, glamorous, and excessive. My trip was a success (although I'm slightly annoyed they didn't have the new celebrity edition of Architectural Digest on stands - Kourtney and Kholé Kardashian's homes are in there!) both for my home needs and my never-ending appetite for new beauty products. And truth be told, I did have one of the items on my shopping list already. But the other two I stumbled upon and I felt like I needed to share the love.


Pixi Glotion Day Dew ($22): follow me down a quick rabbit hole…it will be worth it. I love makeup and Bobbi Brown is one of my favorite brands. I have amassed a little collection of face charts from the Bobbi Brown makeup artists I’ve been lucky enough to work with and thoroughly enjoy saving up and purchasing a couple things at a time when I’ve run out of products or want to add to my arsenal something they’ve used on me. Designer makeup is great – I believe in the quality – but it’s not always budget friendly. One Bobbi product I’ve been pining for is the Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm ($65). The makeup artists say that Bobbi calls it “Cinderella Cream.” Like the sound of that? Because I did. And I loooove the way it looks on my skin. It’s moisturizing, yes, but what makes it as magic as a beloved Disney character is the reflective pearls that create an illuminated, radiant glow. It can be used on bare skin, layered over skincare, or applied in highlighting areas on top of foundation. SO…Pixi Glotion Day Dew is for all intents and purposes, an exact dupe for Bobbi Brown’s Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm. And it’s $40+ cheaper!

This stuff is ideal for anyone wanting a full, fresh-faced glow or natural highlighter that won’t look majorly manufactured. I’m already a HUGE fan of the Pixi Glow Tonic (if you don’t have it, run and get you some), and have been loving on the Glow Mud Cleanser and Glow Mud Mask – but for some reason the humble packaging of Pixi’s products makes me doubt their amazingness. I guess it goes to show that good things can come in pistachio packaging.


Weleda Skin Food ($13): Sally and I communicate a.lot. throughout the day. And while she loves to text, I am not the best at responding. Friends, be warned: texting is not my strong suit. I always read what comes through but I’m terrible at responding. But when Sally wrote me last week, “We need this stuff” with a link to this Into The Gloss post, I wrote back immediately with “YES.” You can read what ITG had to say (it will probably convince you to buy Weleda Skin Food more than my own post will) but the parts that stood out to me were “smells like almond extract…absorbs quickly…all natural.” Almond extract might be my second favorite scent in the world – only behind anything that smells masculine and leathery – and Sally and I both love any baked goods that contain the extract or have have an almond-y taste (especially almond croissants). I Googled where I could find Skin Food, saw that Target carried it, and added it to my shopping list below “coffee” and above “glue dots.” It was the first thing I opened when I got home and I eagerly awaited the delicious scent of almonds to bowl me over…but it didn’t happen. I don’t know what Trace Barnhill thinks almond extract smells like, but this is not it.

However, as a hand lotion this stuff is the bomb. Generally speaking, I haven’t been good at using on my hands – the thought of greasy fingers hitting my keyboard is the stuff that keeps me up at night – but Trace was speaking the truth when she said that though very thick, Skin Food absorbs quickly. Not only that, but even after washing my hands multiple times throughout the day without replying the lotion they still feel ridiculously soft and the hangnails that love to plague my manicured fingers have been soothed and seem to be staying away. I might get brave tonight and try it on my face…it is all natural after all.

Vaseline Lip Therapy Cocoa Butter Lip Balm Tin ($3.50): one of my favorite party tricks is to pull out my bedazzled mini Vaseline tub, dip my pinky finger into it, and generously dab some of the jelly on my lips. If that sounds like a weird image it’s because I mean for it to. That’s why it’s a party trick – duh. Vaseline partnered with BaubleBar to offer the limited edition itsy-bitsy jeweled jar over the holidays and I count my lucky stars that I was able to get my greedy paws on a one back in December. Now…if this slightly tacky but super awesome sparkle sounds like something you’re into I give you some choices: A) wait to see if BaubleBar comes back with the collab product next holiday season, or B) buy your own mini jar here and attempt a Swaroski crystal DIY at your leisure. How about C) get one of the hot-off-the-press Vaseline Lip Tins they recently started selling in the states and impress all your friends who have never seen petroleum jelly packaged as such.

If option C sounds pretty good (and it should!) I want you to get excited because now you have options. The Vaseline Lip Therapy Tins – which apparently contain a Vaseline formula that specially created for lips – come in four varieties…Original (the good old non-scented Vaseline we all know and love), Rosy Lips (a light tint with a sweet hint of rose, vanilla, and red berry scents), Cocoa Butter (includes cocoa seed oil and has a little cocoa/vanilla scent), and Aloe (made with aloe vera, known to calm and soothe irritated skin). I obviously went for the Cocoa Butter formula and I’m glad I did – because my Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Chapstick was starting to feel weirdly gritty and I’m loving how the toting around the tin has made me and my lips glossy, hydrated, and smooth.

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Beauty Dish

October 28, 2015

We all know about borrowing things from the boys…the concept of oversized and slouchy pieces has become so commonplace that brands include "boyfriend" along side descriptions and names for jeans, shirts, blazers, and more. I don't have a boy in my life I can literally borrow things from (clothing or otherwise) but that hasn't stopped me from using products specifically made for men. As much as I loooove makeup and getting girly, I can admit that some things designed for ladies just don't work that well - at least for me. I can't stand the scent of powdery or floral deodorant, my lady razors and razor blades have never held up to their price points, and on the point of shaving, guys have more high-powered and result-driven skin soothing solutions than the girls do. I'm just saying…the whole "strong enough for a man but made for a woman" promise that is subliminally driven into our lady heads isn't always the truth. Sometimes the stuff that's actually worth of buying and using is intended for men. Here are the products that I get in the men's section and continue to re-buy because they really work.


Tend Skin for Razor Burn & Ingrown Hair ($12): ready to get personal? I get professional bikini waxes. No shame in that game as far as I’m concerned.  But even though waxing is supposed to be better than shaving when it comes to keeping razor burn and ingrown hairs at bay, I was continually being plagued by both issues. If you’ve ever had either you know what a total annoyance and embarrassment it is to deal with. I bought so. many. products promised to help with my lady waxing but no amount of exfoliator or Bikini Zone (SO terrible, never buy this) or special serum did anything. After being fed up after a year+ of frustration, I did some online research about razor burn and ingrown hair topical solutions and learned about Tend Skin. The product was developed in the ’90s (read the fun about here) specifically to treat men whose facial skin got razor bumps from shaving. As the story goes, once women started buying the product for their husbands and boyfriends, they tested the formula on skin areas with the same stubborn razor burn and ingrown hairs and noticed that after continued use, the issues went away. Go figure! A product made for men worked just as well with women! I don’t care what’s in Tend Skin that makes it so magically effective – I just know that I’ll never stop buying and using it. The formula comes in solution bottles and can by applied with a cotton ball but I like the refillable roll-on system. There’s no special trick for applying, just put it on dry skin. I use mine after every time I shower and have never had any irritation issues. Now go forth and get some of this stuff. Your bikini area will thank you.

Gillette Fusion Razor ($10): I was in 5th grade when I started the process of begging my mom to let me shave my legs. I can remember my first razor very vividly – it had a basic rectangle 3 blade attached to a really wide, flat handle (remember those?) and it was a pale aqua blue. From there I graduated to a Venus Razor (so fancy!) and had faithfully bought new handles and blades (with those rounded corners, how nice!) for years and years. My handles grew mold and the blades seemed to get dull after the first use but I figured that was normal. Then I realized, that’s not normal, that is disgusting and expensively annoying. After visiting Sister Sally in San Francisco last October I forgot my razor and used the one in her shower. It happened to be a men’s Gillette. I asked her why she used it and she explained that men’s razors were a better buy because they were designed to handle men’s facial hair which was more corse and thicker than what we ladies have. Well duh. That made total since to me. I tossed my pretty blue girly razor with all it’s gentle curves and bought the manly steel and bold blue Gillette Fusion. I haven’t looked back.

Degree for Men ($3): Sally is all about natural deodorant – she steers very clear of aluminum-based antiperspirants use chemicals to block pores and keep you from sweating. I on the other hand still use the non-natural stuff. I’ve read arguments for both both sides of the argument and as much as I wish I could go all free like Sally, I just want to not smell like a petting zoo bad. If Sally can finally find a natural product that works really, really well (she has been trying literally everything out there and has yet to settle on the perfect thing) I would definitely switch. Till then, I use Degree deodorant/antiperspirant for men. Like I said in my little intro, I loathe powdery, floral and perfume-ish deodorant scents – they are just so horribly generic and cloying and wrong – so I started using men’s deodorant in college because I loved the clean, spicy scents of them. It smells good and I smell good. I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-bought this same stuff…

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Beauty Dish

October 9, 2015

Usually Molly is the one who's introducing me to the latest and greatest beauty products I have to have. But recently, the tables have turned and I've been the sister finding great new makeup and skincare items worth sharing. I'm going to have to give credit where it's due and thank Kathleen (of Beauty Now App) for her blog and Instagram, and the wise ladies of Into The Gloss for always keeping me in the know and turning me onto drugstore and department store brands alike. Right now there are several new "can't live without" things in my makeup bag but the product I've been telling everyone about and using everyday is the star of today's Beauty Dish...


Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray ($30): I’ve tried setting sprays before (Molly and I previously used Model in a Bottle) – and I liked how my makeup stayed put but hated how the spray seemed to make my pores look huge, dry out my skin, and felt like I was putting toxic hair spray on my face. Then I heard about Urban Decay’s setting sprays and was curious to see if the promise of keeping makeup from fading all-day held true. As a teacher I get up early, get to work before my students, leave after they’ve all gone home, then run errands, workout, and have dinner with my husband. Days are long and by the time I go to wash my makeup off I look in the mirror only to feel like I have none of it left on my face. Great, I look as gross and tired as I feel! I figured that setting spray might last me till the end of school but I didn’t have high expectations…shame on me. Not only did my makeup stay put till the end of my work day, but all the products I loving applied in my morning routine were still on my face even after sweating through my nightly makeup class! Incredible. I continued to spray my face (just 2-3 short pumps of the microfine mist held about 6-8 inches from my face) after finishing my makeup for about a week to make sure the first day wasn’t a fluke. Then I started spreading the word about the weightless product that was changing my little life. Urban Decay has three setting sprays to choose from but I went for the All-Nighter formula as it promised to be the most long lasting. Some fun facts about the product: it’s suitable for all skin types and features patented Temperature Control Technology which lowers the temperature of your makeup to keep foundation, eyeshadow, blush, and concealer in place—even in hot and humid or cold and windy conditions. Makeup lasts all day (or night) without melting, cracking, fading, or settling into fine lines. There’s also no Parabens, Sulfates or Phthalates in the ingredients. Yay! Get you some and thank me later (:

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Beauty Dish

September 22, 2015

Turning to the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator for skin and beauty remedies is nothing new…I've been reading about DIY yogurt masks and avocado hair treatments for years. I'm sure at some point during our middle school years when were were obsessed with crafting that Sally and I tried our hands at concocting home-made soaps and sugar scrubs. Do-it-yourself solutions are great if you're adventurous and good at following directions, but I am much more willing to try something containing a foods and other edible ingredients as their base when they've been created by professionals in the skin and beauty arena. Half the fun I have with beauty treatments comes from enjoying the way things are packaged and the thoughtfulness it took to make them. Aside from the frank body products I wrote about in this post that use coffee grounds as the base ingredient, I have several other products with foodie ingredients that I've been using frequently and really loving.


Victoria Lanolin-Agg-Tval Eggwhite Facial Care Soap ($5): I had never heard of eggwhite soap till I came across this pretty blue box on the shelves of Ann Mashburn’s store in Houston. The price (just over $5 – a low cost when it comes to any skin or beauty product!) and egg ingredient immediately caught my attention. Apparently, Swedish women have been making facial masks with glycerin, rose water and egg whites for generations and several soap companies in Sweden developed recipes based on the popular cleansing method. After using the soap myself I can understand why – the aftereffect is a deep buy super gentle pore cleanse. Using the product is easy: you use a little water and rub the bar in your hands till you have a nice lather; then you apply the soap foam to your skin and let it sit for a few minutes. When you rinse off the mask (which has a nice light rose scent) you notice that your skin feels tighter and squeaky clean. The soap can also be used as a regular cleanser but I prefer to use it once or twice a week since it does reduce oil and I didn’t want to dry out my skin too much. A lot of people who are fans of the soap say they’ve noticed a huge difference in the appearance of their pores and that when used regularly it zaps blackheads and helps reduce breakouts. At $5 I’d say it’s worth trying for yourself!

Tata Harper Limited Edition Honey Blossom Resurfacing Mask ($65): the Resurfacing Mask by Tata Harper is a favorite for both Sally and I and it’s been mentioned on the blog on several occasions – most recently in this post from last year when the mask was released in a limited edition Soothing Apricot version. Before that, Tata ran a limited number of Resurfacing Masks with Wild Plum. This year, Tata has infused her ever popular and award-winning mask with honey. Don’t be scared, this isn’t a sticky mess but a super sweet treat for your skin. Raw honey has been used as a hydrating and revitalizing skin treatment for centuries and it was only a matter of time till the golden stuff was added to some of Tata Harper’s skincare. The honey used in the mask is harvested in Vermont and blended with essential oils that further revitalize the skin, seal hydration, and help soothe dry or irritated areas. I love, love, love this mask – even more than the apricot and plum versions – and have been using it almost every other night as a way to spoil my skin and maintain a summertime glow as I head into fall. As always, the Resurfacing Mask delivers an instant glow. But the exclusive honey blossom edition has only been released in a batch of 1,500…so if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself I suggest you hurry and get your paws on a jar before it’s all gone. Pooh Bear would approve.

Cocvít Coconut Oil ($38): we’ve all heard about the wonders of coconut oil, yes? I’ve heard that Miranda Kerr eats like, 12 spoonfuls a day. So we should all do that to be more beautiful. Kidding. You can do that if you want but I prefer the beauty and skin uses of the oil more than I enjoy the taste. What makes the stuff so great for your skin and body in general is that it’s naturally antibacterial, anti fungal, antimicrobial, and it contains potent enzymes and nutrients. You can buy a jar from the grocery store and slather it anywhere you want but I suggest investing in an oil that’s specifically produced to be used on your skin. Cocvít Coconut Oil is made from fresh, organic South Indian coconuts that are processed to produce the most pure and potent form of coconut oil – and it’s what I’ve been using for my skin. Specifically, I use it to treat the Keratosis Pilaris (aka “chicken skin”) I have on my legs. Sounds pretty, right? It’s not too horrible really, just some bumps on the back of my legs that are hard to see but very easy for me to feel. I always thought the bumps were from shaving or dry skin but no amount of changing my routine or slathering lotion made them go away and I learned to live with the frequent itchiness and bumpy skin until I realized that what I had was a legit skin condition. A few years ago I discovered DermaDoctor KP Duty – a product specifically designed to treat the Keratosis Pilaris bumps and it worked really well for about a year until my skin just stopped responding to it. I did a little internet research and several people with KP praised the use of coconut oil for treatment. Done and done. I’ve been using Cocvít Coconut Oil on the back of my legs immediately after getting out of the shower and I really like how quickly it absorbs and that it’s not overly fragrant (some coconut oil smells wayyyy too coconuty). The best news is that it seems to really be helping my KP bumps! Knowing how good the natural stuff is compared to a lot of the beauty products I use I’ve also been trying to reach for it as makeup remover and to heal dry spots.

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