Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Skin Saviors



Its no secret that Boston has been having a brutal winter. Besides the endless snow and winter woes, this season poses a new set of threats to your skin. The frigid temps, high winds and intense dry indoor heating can leave your skin parched, flaky and irritated.

I suffer from dry skin, especially on my forehead, year-round, but it kicks into high gear in the winter. This winter in particular has been especially terrible for my skin. Dry patches are also showing up on my cheeks and chin. I knew it was time to change up my skincare routine. Here are the products that have been helping to soothe my skin:




Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Lip Balm

This is my daytime lip balm that I keep in my purse. I love this balm, because as the name suggests, it glides on smoothly and doesn't irritate my lips. There's no dragging or tugging, it just feels amazing to apply and it gives my lips a burst of moisture.




ELF Lip Exfoliator

This stuff is my tried and true. It isn't as nourishing as when I make my olive oil and sugar scrub but it is easy and mess free. I keep it in my medicine cabinet and use it about once a week to keep chapped lips at bay. Its gentle enough that I can use it every few days if my lips are going through a dry spell.




Yes to Grapefruit Facial Scrub

I have to be careful with facial scrubs, the more rough ones leave my skin red and irritated. This one is oh so gentle and smells amazing. It is marketed as being gentle enough to use daily. While I don't use it everyday, I use it every other day in the shower and it does a great job at sloughing away the dry patches without making my skin mad at me.




Mario Badescu Caviar Night Cream

This is a thick and luxurious night cream that is a godsend to very dry skin. I put this on at night after moisturizing and toning. It does take a long time to sink in and you do look like a grease slick after applying so I can see why this is a nighttime-only cream. When I wake up my skin is nourished and glowing and I can see a vast improvement in my dry patches.




Lush African Paradise Body Conditioner

This is an in-shower body lotion. After cleansing, I slather this on my body, as I would my hair conditioner, and then rinse it off. Some people have reported that after using this they no longer need to use their regular body lotion. Although I don't find this to be the case for me, I do notice that my skin is much more comfortable after getting out of the shower. Usually my skin starts to itch and beg for lotion as soon as I dry off. When I use this, my skin is much more calm and I don't feel like I have to hurry up and put lotion on. Another thing I've noticed is an improvement in my eczema. During the winter I get a few patches of eczema on my legs. I have a prescription steroid cream but I don't like to have to constantly use that. I've noticed that since using this product, my eczema isn't totally cleared up but its definitely looking better and its not as itchy.



Humidifier

The most effective step in my winter skincare has been incorporating a humidifier. About a month ago, my skin was at it's worst point. Regular exfoliating and moisturizing wasn't cutting it, so I knew I needed to try something different. Growing up, I remember my parents having this big beast of a humidifier that they used to run at night outside the bedrooms to help put some moisture back in the air during the winter. I decided to capitalize on this idea and picked up this little guy at Target. I love it because its small enough to fit on my bedside table so that the vapors are directly hitting my face. I have to tell you that it really works! Since I've been sleeping with my humidifier on I've seen such an improvement in my skin and I'm no longer getting those out of place dry patches.


I hope this gives you some ideas on how to change up your skincare to keep your skin moist and healthy during the winter. Do you have any fixes for dry winter skin?



Friday, February 20, 2015

Snowpocalypse



In case you haven't heard, Boston has been suffering from one of the most brutal winters on record, clocking in at 95" of snow so far this year and counting. Technically this is the city's second worst winter on record, but we're only a foot away from topping the list! Not sure that's a title I want us to claim. 

Besides all the snow we have: frigid temperatures, roads that have turned into roller coasters thanks to endless potholes and frost heaves, houses look more like igloos with icicles reaching all the way down the ground, ice dams and roof collapses are an ever-present fear and if you don't have a roof rake, you're pretty much screwed.

Here's what we've been dealing with out in the burbs:







Besides the obvious problem of running out of space to put all this snow, we're dealing with our old friend, the ice dam. We had a small leak in our roof a few years ago so this fall, Mike decided to be proactive and installed a heat trace de-icing kit to the edges of the roof. Its designed to create channels in the snow and ice so that water can flow off the roof and doesn't back up and cause leaks. They seem to be somewhat working on the front and side of our house but the back where the two roofs meet up is the trouble spot and our roof still leaked there. 

At this point we started the search for a roof rake. Of course they were sold out everywhere and we had to order one on Amazon. Once it finally came Mike did what he could with the roof rake but the ice dams were just to intense and we ended up having to call in a roofing team to clear the roof of snow and break up the ice dams. Now at least the roof is much more manageable and we just have to keep up with the roof raking after each storm. 




If you look closely you can see the rope of our tire swing. The snow is almost up to the roof of our shed.




Dale is the only one enjoying the snow. The first thing he does when he goes outside is flop on his back and roll around in it. He just can't get enough! He is great at adding some comic relief to a stressful situation. I just love dogs.




Just wanted to give a glimpse of whats been going on around here lately and why I've been a bit MIA. I know I promised to try to be more positive about winter this year but this endless parade of winter storms is making it difficult!

Send warm thoughts my way!



Friday, February 6, 2015

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Spotlights Review

This is a limited edition set from Becca Cosmetics which features mini sizes of three of their Shimmering Skin Perfectors. I picked this up over the holidays and have been loving it ever since! Becca's pressed powder versions of their highlighters have a cult following so when I saw that I could try three of their liquid highlighters for only $25, I jumped at the chance!



The three colors in the set are Pearl, Opal and Champagne Gold. Pearl is a glowy white, Opal is a pinky nude and Champagne is an iridescent gold. I've been wearing Pearl a lot since my skin is very pale right now, but Opal can also work. Champagne is a bit too dark for me at the moment but I'm going to save it for the summer months when my skin has a little color.




Here they are slightly sheered out:




Becca describes the finish as "subtle luminosity that provides a prismatic effect". I mainly use these as a highlighting product on the tops of my cheekbones and a little down the bridge of my nose. They can also be mixed in with your foundation to give an all over glowy appearance. They are similar in consistency to Benefit High Beam, but the Becca spotlights are more creamy and blendable.

Becca also sells these separately. The full size bottles are in a pump form. They are 1.7 oz and retail for $41 each. The mini sizes have a straightened doe foot applicator and are about the size of a lip gloss at 0.17 oz. The amount you get in each bottle is much less than the full size, but a little goes a long way. Since the price of three of these smaller sizes is still much less than one full sized shade, I think you're still getting a good value. 




I apply these in two ways:

I either make three small dots with the applicator to the tops of my cheekbones and then blend it out with my ring finger and lightly bring it down the bridge of my nose. My favorite way to apply these is with a small stipple brush. This one from ELF is amazing for cream products and is available for only $3 at Target. I dot some of the product on the back of my hand, dip the brush in and stipple it onto the tops of my cheeks and a little bit down my nose. 

Final Thoughts:

For the $25 price tag I think this is an amazing value. You get three different highlight colors. Two of the three shades are in the permanent line but Champagne is limited edition and is only available in this set.

These are limited edition and they are currently sold out at Sephora and Ulta, but you can still order them directly from the Becca Website. Happy Highlighting!




Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mad for Marsala

The global color authorities at the Pantone Color Institute have spoken and released the color of the year for 2015, Marsala. Pantone describes this color as a "robust and earthy wine red".




If you were puzzled by what to do with last year's pick, Radiant Orchid, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how wearable this year's shade is. I'd describe it as a red-brown with pink undertones. It is such a rich and natural color that can be seamlessly incorporated into your wardrobe, home and beauty regiment.

Where makeup is concerned, Marsala can be easily worn on the lips, cheeks, eyes and nails.
Going through my makeup collection I realized I already owned some items in the Marsala family.





My first thought on Marsala was that it would be such a pretty lip color. It has been all over the awards show red carpets this year so makeup artists are taking notice! Here are three options:

Gerard Cosmetics Lipstick in 1999  - Brown nude with a bit of pink, matte finish.

Too Faced La Creme in Pink Chocolate - Berry Brown with a glossy finish.

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice - Rosy Brown with a comfortable matte finish.





Another great way to incorporate Marsala is through your blush. A darker rosy cheek is very in this winter, so Marsala is a perfect fit. Here are two options:

theBalm Instain Blush in Houndstooth - theBalm totes this as a "mauve" but I think its more of a plum with a bit of brown.

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Blushed Rose - Cream blushes are great for the dry winter months. This one from Bobbi Brown is a rosy brownish pink shade that can be worn on both the cheeks and the lips.





Another way to wear Marsala is through your eye makeup. I found this Marsala shade, Miracle, in the It cosmetics Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette. It looks great as an all over the lid color, blended into the outer V, or as a liner. I like to pair Miracle with light pinks and warm browns to give my look some dimension.




Last, but not least, Marsala is beautiful on the nails. The shade In Stitches by Essie is a spot-on Marsala color. Its a light berry-brown with a creme finish.


The executive director at Pantone describes Marsala as "a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth." Its very on-trend with the mauves and browns that have been all the rage in the beauty world for the past few months. This color is the perfect mix of the two. It is a very warm and earthy tone that you can interpret as either more brown or more pink in tone. I think this has much more mass-appeal than Radiant Orchid did. Its such an easy, ready-to-wear color that will complement a wide variety of skin tones.

How to you feel about this year's Pantone pick? Are you Mad for Marsala too?




Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Style Staples

Winter is not my favorite season. Trudging through the snow, cleaning off my car and jacking up the heat are not things I look forward to. But over New Years, Mike and I did something different and went on a little winter getaway to North Conway. It really brought me back to what I do like about winter. The cozy scarfs and sweaters, no humidity to make my hair frizz, sipping hot chocolate and cozying up to a fire are all things I enjoy. Since then, I've really been trying to be more positive about winter and one of the ways I've done that is through embracing my favorite fashion items.

Here are some key pieces that have been my Winter Style Staples:




1. Earflap Beanie - I'm reaching for hats with earflaps lately since they really keep you bundled up in the cold winter temps. I love this one from The North Face, its so warm and the cream color will go with anything.

2. Ballerina Flats - In the winter I like to wear boots outside and then have some flats with me to slip on once I get to work. These Tieks flats are great because they fold up and you can carry them in your purse.

3. eTip Gloves - eTip gloves make it so that you don't have to remove your gloves to use your phone, ingenious! These ones from ones The North Face are great because all five fingers are touchscreen compatible, usually its only the index finger and thumb.

4. Dainty Necklace - I've been wearing a lot of scarves lately but I still like incorporate jewelry into my wardrobe. Choosing a dainty necklace is a nice way to do that without your accessories looking overwhelming.

5. Aviator Sunglasses - I find that solar glare affects me the most during the winter so a nice pair of sunglasses is a must. I love my Ray Ban Aviators, they're so comfortable and they go with anything.

6. Blanket Scarf - The Blanket Scarf has taken Pinterest by storm this season. This one from Target is so warm and cozy, I have it in two colors. They are hard to find online but I found both of mine in store, so make sure to peruse the scarf racks!

7. Deep Berry Lipstick - I've been gravitating towards plummy-berry lipstick shades this winter. A bold lip and minimal eye makeup is a great way to look done-up without a lot of effort.

8. Navy Handbag - I've been loving a nice navy leather handbag this season. Its a nice change from the basic black I usually sport this time of year and I think it will transition nicely into the spring.

9. Ugg Boots - Uggs aren't necessarily the best for traipsing around in the snow, since they're not waterproof, but they are just so warm and cozy. I wear these more when its cold than when its snowing or wet out. I love the button detailing on this pair, it really dresses them up.


Shopping Tip:

I am an avid shopper and I recently discovered Raise.com, which offers gift cards at a discount. When I have something I'm shopping for I first check out Raise to see if there are currently offering any discounts at the store I'm planning to visit. Another great thing about this website is that you can also sell your unused or unwanted gift cards that you might have sitting in your wallet, taking up space. I'm always looking for ways to save money so this website was a no-brainer for me.

I hope this post inspired you to embrace the winter weather and gave you an idea on how to save a little money while doing it!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Nail Polish Picks + How to Winterize your nails


Winter is such a brutal season that its important to prepare for it. Some things even involve a "winterization" process to protect them from winter's cold temperatures, snow and ice. Winterization also translates into the beauty world. The cold, dry air can affect your skin, hair and nails, so its important to change up your beauty routine to prepare for it. Before we get into what my winter nail care routine entails, I thought I'd first share my Winter nail polish picks:




Julep Kiki - This is a ice blue with silver shimmer. The color reminds me of the movie Frozen. Its almost the color of Elsa's dress. Yes, I still watch Disney movies as an adult. This is the color I've been reaching for lately when I want a fun pop of color on my nails.

Essie Fiji - This is an opaque pale pink. It is a perfect pastel pink that will transition nicely into the spring. The drawback to Fiji is that with most pastel colors, its streaky. It requires patience and many coats to get the color fully opaque, but it is achievable. I used three coats here.

Julep Joanne - This is a smoky plum color with a creme finish. Its a very ladylike and work-appropriate shade. Opaque in two coats.

Julep Sawyer - This is a molten copper color with metallic shimmer. It is a gorgeous, rich color that looks different depending on the lighting. The formula is thick, you can get away with one coat if you're careful.

OPI Ink - This is a deep ink blue with shimmer. The color is almost a mix of blue and purple that is peppered with a pink shimmer throughout. Its really a mesmerizing color, opaque in two coats.




Now that you've picked out that perfect winter color, its time to treat your hands to a winterized manicure. The cold temperatures and dry air can wreak havoc on your nails so its important to change up your nail care routine to keep your nails healthy and strong during the winter months. Here's how I do it:




Step 1 - Clip & Shape

I use a square ended nail clipper and my trusty Ruby Stone nail file to keep my nails short during the winter. The cool, dry winter air causes my nails to be more brittle. Wearing my nails short keeps them healthy and makes them less susceptible to breakage.

Step 2 - Cuticles: Be Gone!

I soak my nail beds with a cuticle eliminator for about 30 seconds which softens them, making them easy to remove.

Step 3 - Give 'Em A Nudge

Next I gently push back my cuticles with a cuticle pusher.

Step 4 - Clean Up Time

Next I wash my hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. I then buff away any unevenness on my nails using a buffer block and use a cuticle nipper to nip away any nail hangs or leftover dead cuticles. Be careful not to over-trim!

Step 5 - Extra Oomph

Since my nails have been so dry, I've started using a strengthening base coat to give my nails a little boost. I use the base coat under my nail polish and I've really been noticing that my nails feel stronger and I'm having less breakage.

Step 6 - Moisturize Often

Once my nails are dry I finish up with a hand lotion. I massage Essie's Many Many Mani Hand Lotion, into my hands and cuticles as the last step of my manicure. This is a thick lotion but it melts into my skin in seconds and helps keep my hands nourished and happy through the dry winter months. I keep this lotion on my bedside table and use it in between manicures to keep my hands hydrated.




I hope this post gave you some ideas on some new winter colors to try and also inspired you to winterize your nail care routine!


Reference:

Julep
Essie
OPI
Sally Beauty Supply


Friday, January 9, 2015

New Years in North Conway

Happy New Year! Can you believe its 2015? Back to the Future promised we'd all have flying cars and hoverboards by now, what gives? Mike and I rang in the New Year with a trip to North Conway, NH. My family used to vacation there every year during school winter vacation week and I've always loved it up there. Mike is currently suffering from a broken elbow so winter sports were not in the forecast for us this time, but we still found a lot to do!





We drove up on New Years Eve and took the scenic route by way of the Kancamagus Highway. Driving the Kancamagus takes you right through the White Mountain National Forest. There are stops along the way that offer beautiful views of the White Mountains. 






The Swift River runs parallel to the Kanc. You can even stop and swim in some spots during the summer. Obviously there was no swimming happening in single digit temperatures but we still stopped and checked it out.





Once we checked in to our hotel we headed downtown for dinner and to watch the fireworks. They lit off fireworks from Schouler Park which is in the center of the downtown area. Turns out it is REALLY cold to watch fireworks in 2 degree weather in the middle of winter. The fireworks display was pretty impressive though so it was worth freezing our butts off. I wanted to take some pictures but I was way to frozen, the one above was taken when people were gathering in the park before the fireworks started.




We stayed at the Green Granite Inn. They have a huge fireplace in the lodge that was so cozy to warm up to at night. Overall we enjoyed our stay. The rooms were clean, the staff was very friendly and they had a free breakfast every morning.





Besides a lot of shopping and eating, we also wanted to do some sightseeing in the area so we decided to check out the famous covered bridges.




Arguably the prettiest of the three bridges in the Conway area is the Jackson, NH covered bridge, aka the "Honeymoon Bridge". Its painted bright red and it was all decorated for Christmas. Jackson is such a cute little town. If you are ever in the area its worth the trip over the bridge to check it out.







Next we checked out the Swift River Bridge in Conway, NH. This one was my favorite. Its no longer accessible by cars so there is a little park there and you can walk inside the bridge.





Just downstream from the Swift River Bridge sits the Saco River Bridge, also in Conway, NH. Its interesting reading the history about the two Conway covered bridges. Back in 1869 heavy rains caused so much flooding that it caused the Swift River bridge to lift off its foundation and barrel down the river into the Saco Bridge. Both bridges then broke apart and the debris traveled two miles downstream. Both were rebuilt shortly afterwards and much of the lumber was salvaged and used to rebuild both structures. Seeing how low the water level is now its hard to imagine the water getting up that high!








While we were in Conway, we decided to check out the Tuckerman Brewery. Although it didn't look like much from the plain warehouse exterior, inside there is a new beautiful bar and tasting area. The back of the bar is all windows and behind it you can watch the brewing process in action. We also went on a tour and learned about their history and how they brew. The tasting room staff was very knowledgeable on their four brews. We had only tried the Pale Ale previously and we loved the three other offerings, our favorite being the ALTitude.

All in all it was a great winter getaway and hopefully we'll get back there soon!