Holiday Gift Guide Part Two:

Gifts for the Girly Girl

Girly girls have a penchant for pink from an early age, and in time evolve into sophisticated ladies, who embrace femininity. Below are gifts that will please girly girls of all ages.

 Clockwise starting from the left:
Ciaté Mini Mani Month ($58): Great quality polishes for any nail polish loving girl.
Lola James' Alter Ego Necklace ($125) A modern way of having your sweetheart close to your heart. 
Dior Addict Gloss in Fancy Purple ($30) This luxe purple gloss will please 
Lancôme La Vie est Belle ($58) This perfume smells incredible and is beautiful enough to showcase on any vanity.
Real Techniques Duo Fiber Collection ($19.99) Real Techniques brushes offer high end quality for an affordable price.  The new duo fiber brushes are great for applying foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and won't break your budget.
Kate Spade pink glitter wallet ($158) This is the perfect accessory for the grown up girly girl, who isn't afraid to show her love of pink.
Catbird Lovecats Ring ($32) An adorable ring for any cat lover.
Urban decay Naked 3 Palette ($52) This is the newest eyeshadow palette from Urban Decay, which showcases rich pigments of rose gold colors.


Holiday Gift Guide Part One:

Gifts for beautiful skin
I don't care what anyone says, everyone loves to be pampered. Unfortunately, some days can be so hectic that taking time to pamper yourself seems like an elusive fantasy.  These gifts make pampering easy and stress free, just like it should be.  And anything that gives you a reason to take some time for yourself is always a great thing. 
Clockwise starting from the left:
Aesop's Agility Forma Gile Gift Kit ($60)- Herbal scents and amazing ingredients make the products in this gift set a true pampering experience.
Eve Lom The Perfect Partner Gift ($115)- This is luxury skincare at it's finest.  A great present for mom or an aunt.
Origins Morning to Night ($52) -This Origins gift set is full of the best products Orgins has to offer.
Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Bath & Body Luxe Set ($80)- This is for anyone who enjoys a bath, and smelling like a sweet macaroon.
L'Occitane 'Hand Creams of Provence' Set ($42)- Dry hands will be a thing of the past thanks to these luxurious hand creams.
REN Rediscover Radiance Kit ($58)- If you have read my blog you know that I love Ren.  If you're a first timer this is an amazing kit to try out Ren products, and it includes my favorite face mask, the
Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask.
Happy shopping!


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution Review


One of the worst things that comes with acne is acne scarring.  If you have sensitive skin like me, any spot can embed a scar that lasts forever.  I am wary of products claiming miracle erasing results, so I chose the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution with a grain of salt.  I used it 3 times a week, mainly because I have other skin products that I rotate around.   A few weeks after using it I kind of forgot about it, but then a month later as I was applying my makeup I noticed I didn't have that many spots to conceal.  I was in awe for a while trying to rack my brain as to what caused this miracle, and then it hit me.... it was the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution!  The stubborn dark spots on my cheeks that I was learning to accept as a part of my face are gone now, and I couldn't be happier.  Sayonara suckers!

This product has the consistency of a serum, so if you have oily skin I would advice using it at night because it can make you look shiny.  I put it on after my toner and I don't find the need to use a moisturizer after. Though it does take time to see results, the immediate results are the brightening effects.  My skin always looks brighter and plumper the morning after using it.

If you have hyperpigmentation from blemishes I would definitely give this a try.  I also recommend the Clinique's Dark Spot Corrector, which worked wonders on my skin a few years ago. The reason I like the Dr. Dennis Gross solution better is because it doesn't just erase dark spots, it does a number of things, such as plump fine lines, combat blackheads and whiteheads, and brighten your skin.  Erasing scars takes time, so be patient, but if you're diligent with application you should see results after a month.  I hope these recommendations help at least one person out there because I know how disheartening acne scars can be.

Price: $86
Ingredients: Licorice Root Extract, Mulberry Extract, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Willow Bark Extract, Hyaluronic Acid. 


How to Whiten Stained Nails and The Dior Nail Glow


Lately I've been really into wearing my nails with a clear polish.  Mostly because it gives a classic look to any outfit, and was something I didn't have to fuss over when getting ready for job interviews.  Unfortunately if your nails are stained a clear polish can accentuate the yellow stains,  but do not fret because I am sharing what I used to get  brighter and whiter nails.

Bubble White Powder-  You can pick up this nail whitening powder at Sally's Beauty Supply.  Follow the directions, and in five minutes you will see a difference.  I noticed it completely whitened the tips of my nails.

Buffing Block- I use the Seacret buffing block that someone gave me years ago. Seacret does not sell the buffing block on it's own, but I did find this one on amazon that looks similar to the one I use.  These blocks allow you to buff and polish your nails, which significantly help at removing all surface stains. 

If you paint your nails often stains can occur frequently, so I suggest using bubble white and buffing your nails once a month. 

After I successfully whitened my nails I treated myself to the luxe clear polish that is the Dior Nail Glow. 

Dior Nail Glow

This nail polish claims to create an instant  french manicure effect, and also helps whiten nails.  I bought it because I've never seen a pink clear polish like this on the market, and the pink shines beautifully in the daylight.  Though the polish is thin, it has a gel-like feeling when it dries, and is shiny like a topcoat for days. Very luxe indeed!

Dior Nail Glow


New Maybelline Color Elixirs

Maybelline Color Elixir

The Color Elixirs are the newest lip products to come out from Maybelline. They are supposed to have the pigmentation of a lipstick with the feeling of a lipgloss. There are twenty shades that range from nudes to purples. I controlled myself and purchased only three colors, Breathtaking Apricot, Celestial Coral, Fuchsia Flourish. Although we're in the fall, I picked up the brightest colors I could find. I just couldn't help myself. I think pinks and corals suit my skin color the best no matter the season.

Celestial Coral

The elixir itself is really easy to apply, and feels glossy on the lips. I noticed that it did feel a little heavy at first, but I got used to it. (I might have gone a bit heavy handed the first time, so keep in mind a little goes a long way). The color goes on beautifully and vivid and the wear ability of the Color Elixir is quite substantial, lasting over 4 hours. The gloss is the first to go, but when it does it leaves a pretty stain on the lips. Though the color is opaque, I wish drugstores would let shoppers swatch colors because I don't think all of the colors are true matches with the way they look on the bottle, such as the case with Breathtaking Apricot. It looks like an orange coral blend on the bottle, but looks appears like a baby pink on the lips. Thankfully I liked the color, but this is the reason I am showing you ladies photos of how they look on me.

Fuchsia Flourish Fuchsia Flourish
This is definitely the brightest color of the three I purchased, but it is still a wearable fuchsia and looks great with a bit of bronzer.

Celestial Coral celestial coral

I don't really know why this one has coral in the name because it is more of a plum color. It turns out this is the perfect fall shade, so I won't look crazy wearing these bright elixirs.

Breathtaking Apricot IMG_9739
This is the most everyday color of all three. It's definitely a light pink, so don't be fooled by the bottle.

I think these elixirs are worth trying because they are affordable and can be a great way to rock a bright lip without the drying effects of some lipsticks.  And drugstores usually have buy one get one free promotions, so what's there to lose?


Battle of the Topcoats: Seche Vite vs Butter London


I am an avid nail polisher.  I change my polish when the mood strikes, and sometimes it even strikes twice a week.  But when I do a really good job at painting my nails I want it to stay for more than a few days. This is where the topcoat comes in.  I believe a topcoat can make or break your manicure.  It's the last step to seal everything in, and if the topcoat isn't up to snuff then you're manicure will turn out less than fabulous.  I tested out two very popular topcoats to see which is better.

Seche Vite Dry Fast Topcoat ($10)

This topcoat is seen as the holy grail of topcoats among the beauty internet experience and I can see why.  A brand new bottle will give your nails a super shiny coat, and it has a good staying power, lasting a week with minor chips.  Though a new bottle of Seche Vite will offer a really good finish to a manicure, a month old bottle is less than stellar.  Seche Vite gets gloopy and really thick in a matter of weeks.  The gloopiness makes it hard to dry, and gets a lot of scuff marks if you aren't careful. Seche Vite does sell a thinner, but the extra step can be annoying, and it doesn't fully change the polish to what it was like in the beginning. Another problem I have with it is the toxic toluene warning label it has printed on the bottle.  Toluene is a chemical used in paint thinner, nail glue, and some nail polishes. It can be very harmful and cause birth defects if you are exposed to it for a long time, or if you consume it.  I read somewhere that the amount of toluene in nail polish is small, and causes no real side effects, but knowing that it has some toxic chemicals in it is a big turn off for me. 


Butter London Hardwear P. D. Quick Topcoat ($19)

The Butter London Topcoat is the priciest top coat I have ever purchased, so I was expecting for it to be good.  It is not formulated with formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, and it is not animal tested.  The topcoat does offer a thin shiny coat that is a little less sparkling than the Seche Vite.  Though not as shiny, the Butter London topcoat does protect the nails from chips for at least a week.  Also, I've had this polish for over a month, and it hasn't gotten gloopy or thick.  Every coat is thin and fast drying. 

Since I paint my nails so often I prefer using the Butter London topcoat because it gives me a peace of mind knowing that there are no toxic chemicals on my hands.  It may be more expensive, but it lasts longer than the Seche Vite, and provides the same thin shiny coats each time.


September Beauty and Home Favorites


Dior 5-Colour Eyeshadow Palette in Beige Massai

This is a beautiful everyday eyeshadow palate.  All of the colors are matte and very pigmented.  The browns were what I reached for everyday in September, and used the light peach, and coral color for a pop of color.  All of the colors compliment each other and my eye color beautifully.

Modesty Lipstick By MAC IMG_9376 Modesty by MAC is a great your-lips-but-better color.  The pinky mauve color is lovely and natural, which is perfect for an everyday look.

Bath and Body Works Candle in Frosted Cupcake IMG_9444
I especially love the fall season because  Bath and Body Works showcase their most luscious holiday scents.  I adore this frosted cupcake candle because it smells like a vanilla cupcake baking in the oven.  If sweet scents aren't your thing I wouldn't recommend this, but if you love sugary goodness then pick this baby up.

Wet and Wild Ultimate Eyebrow Kit IMG_9418
This Wet and Wild Ultimate Eyebrow Kit in ash brown is the perfect color for my eyebrows, and has good lasting power.  The kit even has a mirror inside for on the go. And being bargain under five dollars isn't a bad thing either.

Last, but not least the Covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara.  It lengthens and it actually doesn't clump, even after weeks of having it.

Hope you enjoyed my September favorites, and are enjoying the fall season.


Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask


When I was paying for this at Sephora the woman ringing me up asked me if I had used it before.  I said no, and she looked at me with the most excited face, and tapped the woman next to her. This woman was sporting the most fabulous enormous 70’s blonde afro, and when my checkout lady told her I was a Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask newbie, she swooned and shook her big hair side to side saying, “OH MY GOD, you are in for such a treat!” Then, the three other checkout ladies next to them nodded in synchrony.  It was honestly a movie moment, and I left Sephora feeling like I had made one of the best purchases ever.

The lady at Sephora told me I would see a difference within the first try, and she was right.  I put on the mask after washing my face and left it on for five minutes. The mask has a gel consistency, and feels a little hot when it’s on.  I followed the directions to a T, removing the mask with a warm wet washcloth. I couldn’t believe how soft and supple my face felt that night. I didn’t even need to moisturize. The next day my face looked brighter, a spot that had appeared a few days before was significantly smaller, and the little makeup I did put on went on seamlessly. I have been using this mask for a little over a month now, and the difference in my skin is noticeable every time.  I am falling head over heels for Ren products because it’s formulated without sulfates and parabens, and the products I’ve tried work. It’s as simple as that.

What took me so long to try this out?  If you’re still hesitant about it (don’t be!) go to Sephora and ask them to give you a sample of it.  It’s one of those products where you only need to try it once to see it works!

Price: $55


-Lactic, Citric, and Glycolic Acids: Help loosen dead skin cells.
-Papain: Helps to gently exfoliate.
-Omega 7: Improves skin appearance and reduces redness.
-Omega 3: Soothes skin and supports natural cell turnover.

Polysorbate 60 (Source Rape Seed Oil), Glycerin (Source Coconut Oil), Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Water, Lecithin (Source Soybean), Lactic Acid (Source Wheat), Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Extract, Grape Seed Oil, Passiflora Quadrangularis Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Pineapple Fruit Extract, Grape Fruit Extract, Alcohol denat. (Source Grape), Cranberry Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum (Source Corn), Maltodextrin, Papaya Fruit Extract, Natural Fragrance, Orange Oil, Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Tangerine Peel Oil, Grapefruit Seed Oil, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Phenoxyethanol (Source Aromatic Ether), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Source Amino Acid), Seabuckthorn Berry Oil, Tocopherol (Vitamin E).


The Cloisters

IMG_9196 IMG_9201 IMG_9219 IMG_9237 IMG_9221
IMG_9241 IMG_9247
Blouse from Zara

On a late summer's day my boyfriend and I went to the Cloisters in upper Manhattan. We had wanted to go for months, but the timing and/or train construction always went against us. But there we were riding the train uptown, and everything was going our way. To get to the Cloisters you have to walk on a verdant path that winds around the edge of Manhattan, and overlooks the Hudson River. It's difficult to imagine a medieval structure sitting on the island of Manhattan, but the Cloisters is just that. It was made to resemble a Medieval abbey, and as you look at it upon the hill you can't help but think that this is something special. Inside the Cloisters is a museum, filled with religious architecture, paintings, sculptures and much more. There is even a lovely garden perfect for reading a book. The Cloisters can be a little out of the way to get there, but it was a nice little getaway from the hustle of the city.

Price: Suggested donation, which is awesome!


Cane + Austin Retexturizing Treatment Pads

IMG_9320 IMG_9323

I am a huge fan of exfoliating my face with acids. Acids such as glycolic acids, and lactic acid are amazing for skin renewal, which works wonders on blemishes, and hyperpigmentation from old spots. I picked this up after I finished my Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel pads, and was excited to try it out and compare.
According to the box, the Cane + Austin Retexturizing Treatment Pads use 10% glycolic acid plus Vitamins, and antioxidants that are supposed to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and age spots, while firming skin and improving tone and texture. It says that you should use it twice daily, at morning and night, but I only use it during my night routine after I cleanse and tone and before my moisturizer or serum.
I bought the box of individual packs because it’s good for traveling. The pads themselves are bigger than the Dr. Dennis Gross ones. You do get a tingly feeling when you apply it, but I wish it tingled more because I have a perceived notion that tingly means it’s working. 
I’ve used half the box already, and though I noticed that my skin hasn’t gotten worse, it hasn’t gotten significantly better. It has great ingredients and feels nice on the skin, but for the price I wanted to see a difference and it’s not as noticeable as the results I get with the Dr. Dennis Gross pads. As you can see I love the Dr. Dennis Gross pads, they are miracle workers, and using these have made me realized that.  Though it didn’t work that well for me, I think the Cane + Austin pads would be good for someone who has clear skin, and wants something that will brighten their face, and get rid of any dry spots. 
I know there are Cane + Austin pads specifically made for acne, which could be great for acne prone people, but in my experience salicylic acid does nothing for my spots.
All in all, I will finish the box of pads, and hope that I see a difference at the end of it.  After that I will definitely go back to my beloved Dr. Dennis Gross pads and probably review them because I can’t stop gushing about it.

Price: $30 for a 25 pack of individually packed pads




Ren No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm

Ren Purity Cleansing Balm Ren Purity Cleansing Balm Ren Purity Cleansing Balm

I picked this up a few weeks ago during one of my late night online shopping sessions.  I was looking to mix up my cleanser routine and this balm called out to me.  Cleansing balms aren’t that popular in the states,  and actually the Ren No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm was one of the few that I could find was easily available in the US.  Cleansing balms are big in England with brands like Eve Lom and Emma Hardie.   British women of all ages are jumping on the balm bandwagon, and I was curious to see why.  I was super excited when I saw that Ren Skincare made one.  Ren products are full of great natural ingredients, and free of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, petrolatum, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colors T.E.A, D.E.A. glycols, silicones, PEGS, and more!

So what is it and how do I use it?
The Ren No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm has the consistency of a thick cream, but when rubbed becomes a rich and creamy balm.  The scent is soft, and what I have dubbed “a fancy spa” smell.  I actually wish the smell lingered after you wash it off, but I guess that would annoy some people.  I use it at night only because it is a longer process.

1. Take a little bigger than a pea size and rub it in circles on a dry face.  You can even put it on your eyes to remove any eye makeup.  Though it does sting a bit if I open my eyes with the balm on, it breaks down waterproof mascara, silicone primers, and eye shadow stuck on with urban decay primer potion flawlessly.  You will have panda eyes, but it is part of the experience.
2. Once you have rubbed it all over your face, wet your face with a bit of water.
3. Take a wet washrag and wipe the balm off your face.  Do little circles around your eyes to take off any stubborn mascara.  The wet rag will help with exfoliate your skin, and ensure that you are taking off all of your makeup.
4. Wash off any balm residue with water.

I love this cleanser.  It does a remarkable job at cleaning my face, and the essential oils in the balm leave my skin smooth and soft.  I know that a lot of people will think that washing your face with a balm takes too long, but if you like skincare, and want something that will make you feel really nice after a long day of wearing makeup, this is definitely a nice product to include in your skincare routine.  Also, if you wear  makeup, and are noticing more breakouts in the morning, it could be that you are not fully cleansing your face and makeup residue is clogging your pores .  Remember that primers are made to stay on your skin for hours, and having a product like a cleansing balm will help in doing a deep clean without harshly scrubbing your face. 

Price: $48 USD

Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Cetearyl Ethyhexanoate, Glyceryl Cocoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Tribehenin, Glyceryl Behenate, Butyrospermum Parkii Shea Butter , Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Parfum* (Fragrance), Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Viola Odorata Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil, Lecithin, Benzyl Alcohol, Oryzanol, Tocopherol, Citronellol, Geraniol, Eugenol, Linalool.
*100% Natural Fragrance - Parfum 100% Naturel


Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica Costa Rica

Photos taken in Arenal and at the Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica was in all aspects a great adventure from the beginning as our taxi driver curved around mountains on the slick road in extremely dense fog. My dresses barely came out of my suitcase because we were always either hiking, swimming, sunbathing, or exploring.  During our week stay my boyfriend and I stayed in three places while we were there: Arenal, Manuel Antonio, and San Jose.  We chose to stay in Arenal and Manuel Antonio because they both offered unique experiences.  Arenal is located in the north-west part of Costa Rica, and features the massive Arenal volcano and hot springs.  We stayed in a hotel with different hot springs, which was beyond relaxing. We went white water rafting in Arenal, and it was a blast, but not for the faint of heart (I have permanent scars on my knees to remember this day).  Manuel Antonio, on the other hand,  is in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and offers a national park full of beaches and animals.  Most of the animals we saw were in the national park, though we did discover three different types of monkey groups behind our hotel, and bats flew around at night by the pool area.  We also did what everyone says you must do if you are ever in Costa Rica, and that is zip-line!  We zipped on a thin cable through the forest of the national park, and it was a thrill, without the weary feeling of vertigo thanks to the dense trees .

The whole country is packed with wildlife and if you stay there for long enough you will see enough animals to feel as if you were living in a zoo.  The people were kind, and the food, such as their typical dish the casado (meaning married man), was delicious and very filling.  For anyone who is scared to go during their rainy season, which is from May to mid-November, don't be! We went towards the end of July, and though it rained on most days we were there, it was mostly in the night with some sporadic showers in the day.  It didn't rain on any of the days we did our excursions, and when we went to the Manuel Antonio National Park.  It was foggy in Arenal, and I thought we weren't going to be able to see the tip of the volcano in the three days we were there, but on our last morning, while having breakfast the fog cleared and the majestic volcano revealed itself with enough time for everyone to snap some photos. 

This trip is definitely on the top of my list of best vacations, and I would go back in a heartbeat.


Review: Michael Todd True Organics Jojoba Charcoal Facial Scrub

michael todd 1
Michael Todd 2

Face scrubs are not usually something that I look for while shopping for skincare products because I find them to be an extra step that I usually forget about.  In the past I've tried face scrubs that are similar to the St. Ives Apricot Scrub (who hasn't tried that?), but I always found them to be quite rough and gritty on my face, since I suffered from acne through my teenage years. And not to mention immediately grabbing the moisturizer to ease the tight feeling after washing it off.  From my experience using harsh scrubs on acne prone skin will only make it worse because you can scrub your skin raw without even trying, and lead to irritation, and a red stinging face.  My body can take a rough scrub, but for my face I stick to soft exfoliators, such as the Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream.  I like the Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream because it feels like a fancy spa scrub, but the $35 price tag can be a lot to splurge on a 2 Oz. tube. So, there I was thinking that scrubs were just not going to be part of my beauty routine, but all of that changed when I discovered the Michael Todd True Organics Jojoba Charcoal Facial Scrub.

I received the facial scrub in my August Ipsy Glam Bag.   I was still hesitant about whether I would love it, even though lately I've been hearing a lot about Michael Todd products online, especially the Charcoal Detox Mask (next purchase, maybe?).  All of their products claim to be Organic, which is always a good thing to keep in mind when purchasing skincare products. 

The scrub itself is 70% organic, and has big beads, which are not gritty.  Rubbing it felt soft on my skin, and it had the consistency of a gel.  On the Michael Todd True Organics' website it says the scrub uses jojoba wax beads, and charcoal to provide a gentle exfoliation, and together penetrate pores, and draw out any impurities, and toxins. The scrub felt so nice on my skin that I even let it sit on my face for a little bit, while I brushed my teeth. Once I washed it off, my face was soft to the touch, and had no tightness.

I've only had this scrub for a few days, so I can't say that I've seen miracles, but I can say that each time it has removed any dry patches on my face, and left my skin feeling like I had done some good to it.  I got a pretty big 1 Oz sample to try out, but for $18 you can buy their regular 3.4 Oz tube.  I think that is a pretty good deal for what you are getting.  If you are in the market for a light scrub that will make your skin soft, and help towards hyper-pigmentation, acne, and skin dullness, then I would definitely give this a try.

Will I purchase it once I'm done with the sample?
Yes because I loved how it made my skin feel, and I can always use it when my skin needs a boost.

Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Juice, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut RBD) Oil, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Wax Beads, Emulsifying Wax, Palm Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Fruit) Pulp Powder, Charcoal, Xanthan Gum (Polysaccharide Gum), Carbomer 980, Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui Nut) Oil, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Glucolactone, Citric Acid.