Category Archives: beauty faves


My November Beauty Favorites

Oh, hi!

When I declared my intent to unplug a little more and blog a little less back in October, a month-long leave of absence from the Internet wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Somehow, November slipped right through my fingers…

But let’s get back to business.

One of the things I’d like to [try to] do on the blog is share my beauty favorites each month (inspired by Pretty Shiny Sparkly). The fact that I’m posting my November picks a week into December just speaks to my excellent procrastination skills.

Here we go!

Physicians Formula Super CC+ Cream and Powder – This has been my daily duo for the last six weeks. It has all you need in an everyday product: sun protection, color correction, and some built-in skincare benefits; plus it’s paraben-free. The cream reminds me of NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer; it dries to a light-reflecting matte finish with a medium coverage that just looks like healthy skin. The powder compact is like a pressed dupe of Guerlain Meteorites. Here’s the best part: you can get both — with a complementary concealer — for about $20.

A Pretty Penny November Beauty Faves Butter London Lippy Tinted BalmButter London Lippy Tinted Balm – This has replaced just about every other lip product in my handbag. The formula has vitamin E and avocado, mango and shea butters that make it slip on easily like a balm, but the colors are highly-pigmented and subtle for every day. My favorites are Abby Rose (pink) and Teddy Boy (nude). These are also paraben- and phthalate-free.

Ole Henriksen Lavender Body Oil – I bought this natural body oil for 50% off at TJ Maxx — they have a bevy of beauty products, why didn’t anyone tell me? — and it’s become my daily all-over moisturizer. It’s such a simple formula: lavender essential oil, sesame oil, and sweet almond oil. The scent is super relaxing and my dry skin drinks it up.

A Pretty Penny November Beauty Favorites US Apothecary Rose Water Bubble BathU.S. Apothecary Rose Water Bubble Bath – C surprised me with a night at the Ritz for my 30th birthday last month. I splurged on this bubble bath in the spa gift shop while he checked out the golf course. I also bought the hand and body lotion (I couldn’t resist). I’m rationing this stuff like liquid gold, but I love having a little piece of that weekend at home.

Tangle Teezer – This compact little wonder tool makes easy work of brushing through my over-processed highlighted hair, wet or dry. This was another discounted TJ Maxx find, but I would happily hand over 20 bucks for one.


my summer {beauty} top 10

I love sharing my seasonal beauty favorites on the blog. This summer, I’m focused on good sun protection, more natural products, and a low-maintenance beauty routine with a little glow.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk – It’s a splurge at around $30, but this is one of the best sunscreens I’ve ever used. The paraben-and-fragrance-free fluid absorbs quickly and dries to a matte finish, making it perfect for everyday protection from head to toe. On pool and lake days, I know I’m covered; it’s nice to relax and skip the constant reapplications I always think I need with sprays.

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream – If you’ve ever found yourself on a search for an effective natural deodorant, it can seem like an awkward/smelly exercise in futility. Before you run back into the arms of aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex — yikes! — give Soapwalla’s all natural deodorant cream a try. I started using it a few weeks ago, and so far so good. C and I spent a very hot and humid afternoon bartending at an outdoor fundraiser recently, and I left fresh as a daisy.

Some people complain about irritation from the baking soda in the formula, but I haven’t had an issue; maybe because I used Arm & Hammer’s Essentials deodorant before making the switch. If you’re concerned about possible reactions, check out this Crunchy Betty post on pH spray for baking-soda-based deos.

Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Balm – If I had to choose just one lip product to use for the rest of my days, I’d happily pick this one. It’s a must-have for me 365 days a year, but it gets extra points in the summer for having SPF 15 built in.

thebalm Balm Shelter Tinted Moisturizer SPF 18 – Confession: before I buy almost any beauty product, I turn to Beautypedia.  I tried this paraben-free tinted moisturizer purely because it was recommended on Beautypedia’s Best of the Best list, and it’s fantastic for sheer-to-medium natural coverage with sun protection. To make it hold up to the heat and humidity, I set it with a little Koh Gen Do Natural Lighting Powder.

Psst: If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find discounted products from thebalm on Hautelook every few months.

Durance Nourishing Dry Body Oil – I’m already on bottle #2. I use this after every shower. It smells light and clean, and keeps my skin lightly moisturized without feeling heavy or greasy; there’s nothing worse than thick lotion sitting on top of your skin when the heat index is pushing triple-digits.

Lush Vanilla Puff Dusting Powder – This stuff makes me smell like a sweet tart, but in the best way. I use it all over after a shower or bath on days I know I’ll be outside to stay fresh and dry. Bonus: This dusting powder has a real vanilla pod inside that keeps the fragrance going strong through the end of the bottle.

TooFaced Lash Injection Mascara – I feel like this mascara ends up on every “beauty faves” post I write, but I especially appreciate the tubing formula in the summer. Florida humidity is no joke, and nearly every other mascara runs down my eyes by lunch.

Gillette Venus disposable razors – I’m insanely loyal to these disposable razors. I literally won’t shave with anything else, and I have a stockpile in the event of apocalypse or discontinuation (don’t do it, Gillette!). A good, sharp razor that minimizes nicks, irritation and razor burns is a summertime staple.

Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator in Bronze Light – I’m so glad Revlon brought Skinlights back; the liquid and powder illuminators were mainstays in my highschool and college makeup bag. I’m currently using the Bronze Light over my tinted moisturizer for a subtle sunkissed glow, focusing on the places I usually put powdered bronzer: my cheekbones, hairline, nose and neck.

Shea Moisture Hand & Body Scrub – I love a good scrub in the summertime. Whether I’m exfoliating my heels for sandals, prepping for self-tanner, or scrubbing off layers of built-up sunscreen after a day outside, there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned body scrub. Shea Moisture’s sugar scrubs are the best: they’re inexpensive, all natural, and combine natural exfoliants with nourishing oils for double-duty sloughing and moisturizing.

What beauty products are getting you through the summer months?

Image source: weheartit

my super simple skincare routine



These days I’m really into healthy skin and minimal makeup. My face is at its best with a super simple routine; the more I experiment with products the more aggravated my combination-dry sensitive skin becomes. When it’s angry, it rebels in the worst ways: flakiness, redness, and cystic acne breakouts that leave discoloration behind for weeks.

So for now, I’m skipping the harsh chemicals and anti-aging formulas in favor of gentle, natural products… with high hopes that lots of moisturizer and SPF will guarantee good skin for the long-haul. It worked for my grandmother, so fingers crossed.

Keep reading for a long-winded breakdown of my current short-list routine!

Read more…

hands-down favorite hand cream

Tokyomilk Dark Shea Butter Handcream

Tokyomilk Dark Shea Butter Handcreme  in La Vie La Mort 

As a florist, the condition of my hands falls somewhere between landscaper and mechanic. A good hand cream is a necessary luxury; without it my paws would be a rough and battered disaster. When my favorite salon {Spectrum Studio, for the locals} started selling TokyoMilk Dark products late last year, I scooped up a tube of the shea butter handcreme and now I’m helplessly addicted.

There are so many TokyoMilk Dark scents to choose from, but for now I have La Vie La Mort (white tuberose and jasmine) and Bulletproof (smoky woods and warm coconut) on regular rotation. The highly-fragranced formulas absorb quickly and keep my hands hydrated and protected. Bonus: I’ve also been using them as all-over moisturizers that double as a lasting subtle perfume.

Each fragrance is dark and deep — even the florals have an edge that keep them from being too sweet — and stay with you for hours. At $22 each, the hand creams are a great way to collect and experience all the parfums.

I also love the lip balm. Clove Cigarettes is my favorite.


the faux-glow

My collection of sunless tanning horror stories is almost as large as the volume of kitchen beautician nightmares involving drugstore boxed hair color and self-cut bangs. I’m naturally fair-skinned, and I spent my teenage years and most of my 20’s doing everything I could to bronze up. Including a longterm affair with tanning beds, for which I’m deeply regretful and pray I don’t have to pay for later (both figuratively and literally) in the dermatologist’s office.

A few years ago, I decided to just embrace the pale and work with what the good Lord gave me. But, when an occasion calls for bathing suits or short-shorts I’ll take all the help I can get; and a little glow goes a long way in cooling my burning hatred for bikinis.

If you’ve used self-tanners before, you know the “dark side” of getting, well, dark. No one wants to look like an oompa loompa — except, evidently, Snooki Polizzi circa 2009 — and we’ve all woken up with stained palms or feet the morning after application. I’m all too familiar with the disappointment of going to sleep looking awesome, and waking up to an overnight fake bake disaster.

A few weeks ago, in preparation for a beach trip, I picked up a bottle of my favorite tanning product, Clinique Self Sun in Light/Medium and went to work on my faux-glow. Clinique Self Sun Pros: It gives my fair skin a natural touch of color, it’s buildable so I can control the level of my tan, it doesn’t stain my clothes or sheets after it dries, it fades evenly, and the tell-tale “self-tan smell” is really minimal compared to other products I’ve tried.

I think the trick to getting the most out of any self-tanning product lies in the prep. I like to apply the product in the evening so it can fully develop while I’m sleeping, and then I wash it off the next morning. I apply it every night until I reach the color I’m happy with, and then reapply every few days for maintenance as long as I want my “tan” to last. 

Here’s my (slightly obsessive) self-tanning ritual in three steps: 

1. Scrub-a-dub-dub. Exfoliation is key numero uno in getting the best, most even results and avoiding stained knees, ankles, and elbows. I like to soak in the bath for a bit (bonus: relaxation time!) and then scrub down with a natural sugar scrub. The good folks at Splurge skincare sent me their sugar scrub, The Rub, and I’m in love. It sloughs off all dry skin, and moisturizes at the same time with natural oils. I’ve already gone through one jar! I follow that up by shaving my legs, and finish by gently pumicing my feet, ankles, knees, and elbows.

2. Moisturize. Dry areas — like knees, ankles, feet, and elbows — tend to soak up more of the tanning product, which cause dark stains. While exfoliating goes a long way in preventing this, adding a light moisturizer is an extra insurance policy. Rub a little lotion into these areas and let it fully absorb before moving on.

3. Apply. My friend, Terra, wrote an excellent step-by-step application post using the same product on her blog, Stylish White Female a while ago. I follow it to the letter, but add in a few extra hand-washings between sections for good measure. I love that the Clinique product has a built-in bronzer so you can see where it’s going. Self-tanning is not one of those things that’s made more fun by surprises. {Hello, tiger stripes!}

manicure monday: sleek sticks

Essie is one of my favorite beauty brands. Even before their pretty polishes started showing up on my drugstore’s shelves, I searched the sale bins for marked down bottles at specialty stores. I love their highly pigmented colors, and I can make an all-Essie manicure last at least a week.

So when I spotted a glossy ad for Essie Sleek Sticks in a magazine a few months ago, my heart pitter-pattered. I didn’t know where to find them, so I filed it away in my mental wish list and went about my business.

Essie Sleek Sticks

{seriously, how’s a girl supposed to choose?!}

Late last week, while cruising Walgreens for toothpaste and deodorant for the mister, I breezed down the beauty aisle and there they were!! I wanted. them. all. I stood, mouth agape, for a good five minutes trying to decide which pattern to buy. As if it was a permanent and unalterable choice. Weirdo.

One agonizing decision and about $11 later, I was on my way. Like other polish strips, application was easy breezy and took about five minutes start-to-finish {and no dry time, FTW!}.

Essie sleek stick 2

{ Essie Sleek Sticks in “Glam it On” }

a night on the town




Event season just kicked into full gear in our community, and Chad and I try to show our support at as many after-hours cocktail parties, fundraisers, awards banquets, and other business/cultural events as possible. We’ve found that these networking opportunities are invaluable for our small business, and if we can design the flowers for the soiree — even better!

Last night I tweeted a photo of myself getting ready for one such affair in a makeshift dressing area at the flower shop. It’s an art I’ve perfected over the last couple of years, after several failed attempts to make it home in time to “fix myself up;” and subsequently, several fashion/hair/makeup emergencies that required frenzied speed-shopping trips and lots of wasted cash.

I’ve learned to accept the fact that the universe will never work in my favor on these days — inevitably, I’ll get caught up handling last-minute orders, fielding calls, and all other manners of running around like a headless chicken — and that setting aside a couple hours of at-home pampering just isn’t in the cards. So I save myself the frustration and chaos by getting ready at the shop 80% of the time.

I usually skip makeup on these days so I have a clean slate when it’s go-time. I bring what I plan to wear (bonus: skipping the madness of trying on 10 dresses in front of the mirror at the last minute) and I pack a bag with all the essentials:

  • Appropriate undergarments. There’s nothing worse than realizing that the one-shoulder cocktail dress you brought doesn’t jive with the cotton t-shirt bra you put on for work in the morning. Or forgetting your Spanx {the horror!}.
  • Deodorant
  • Dry shampoo and a mini-bottle of Elnett
  • My large-barrelled curling iron and a flat paddle hairbrush
  • Foundation and a beautyblender
  • NARS blush in Orgasm — my go-to that matches everything — as well as a sheer bronzer and a soft fluffy blush brush {say that three times fast}.
  • Aquaphor. I just discovered this little beauty powerhouse on Into the Gloss, and now I keep a tube in my handbag at all times. I use it as a lip balm, dab it on my cheekbones for a little extra “dewiness,” and rub it into my ravaged florist cuticles.
  • My favorite mascara.
  • A LORAC eyeshadow palette that goes with just about everything.
  • A few lip color options
  • And finally… an evening clutch and pretty shoes!

{ holographic dress: Antonio Milani; belt: taken from another dress; vintage eelskin clutch – thrifted; Kate Landry studded platform pumps, Tom Ford sunnies c/o RueLaLa; cocktail ring c/o INPINK }

summer lovin': my must-have beauty picks this month


Everything feels easier in the summertime. Less fuss, more fancy free. So when the temperatures rise and the humidity kicks in, my beauty routine usually gets a pare-it-down overhaul. Here are a few of my favorite things that are getting me through July:

Josie Maran Argan Oil: A splurge, but with so many uses it’s easy to justify. Every morning when I get out of the shower, I apply this pure oil to my face while it’s still damp, and work the leftovers into my hands and cuticles. You can also use it as a body moisturizer and hair treatment. If you’re not ready to take the plunge on the full-size bottle, scoop up the travel size for $14 at Sephora. 

The Body Shop Almond Body Butter: I’ve been a fan of The Body Shop for years, and their body butters have always been a staple for my dry skin. The almond body butter is light enough to not feel greasy in the humidity, but rich enough to keep my parched skin hydrated. And the scent is yummy.

The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector: Another TBS favorite. I bought this for my husband a few years ago for Christmas, and have since kept it restocked. I use it on my ravaged florist hands all year, but recently discovered it’s an equally good foot treatment.  Daily sandal wear can do serious damage to a girl’s heels.

Burt’s Bees Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash: A gentle, natural body wash that wakes me up in the morning with essential peppermint oil.

Bare Minerals Matte: Bare Minerals and I have had a rocky relationship over the last decade. I stray to try other foundations and tinted moisturizers, but in the summer, I always go back to mineral makeup. It’s quick to apply, evens out my complexion, and protects my skin with SPF. I’ve found that the Matte version is less shiny than the original, and stays on all day.

What are your summer beauty picks?

freshly scrubbed: Simone France skincare review

IMG_9477 IMG_9479

I don’t often post naked (that’s pronounced “neck-id” here in the south) photos of myself on the internets, but sometimes a girl’s gotta make a point and drastic measures are required. So here it is: un-edited photos of my freshly scrubbed face in all its makeup-free glory. My skin is better than it’s ever been, and I owe it to an online skincare company called Simone France.

I’m pretty blessed in the skin department (my mother has an amazing complexion) but it’s really sensitive and I’ve had my fair share of woes, including cystic acne. I’ve dropped big cash on department store brands and tested everything available on a drug store shelf. Everything I tried either irritated my face, or offered instant gratification but led to breakouts after a few weeks.

About two years ago, I tossed out all my heavy foundations and cosmetics and drastically simplified my makeup routine (more on that later). It made a huge difference in the health of my skin, but I still couldn’t find my holy grail skincare system to keep my skin fresh and glowy.

Simone France contacted me about reviewing their line, and after checking out their website and learning more about the brand — which focuses on simplicity, deep pore cleansing, and mild daily exfoliation — I agreed to give it a try. I told them about my skin concerns and my daily routine, and they sent back a detailed product recommendation and step-by-step instructions. I received the products the week of Thanksgiving, and I’ve used them religiously since.


The principle philosophy of Simone France is this: it’s all about the way you clean your skin. On their website, they debunk 3 skincare myths and offer gentle, effective products for all skin types. Not sure what system will work best for you? Contact them! They give detailed email consultations to any customer that requests it to help you find the best Simone France products for your skin.

I’ll leave you with this final note: Skincare is investment-worthy. I always tell the Mister that it will cost us less in the long run if I use quality products now vs. doing expensive damage-control procedures down the road. And finding a quality line that you know works for you will save you lots of dough in experimental beauty binges.

Keep reading for the personalized consultation I received from the ladies behind the brand. Reading it was an Oprah “Ah-ha!” moment for me, and it made perfect sense!

Read more…

5 new (to me) beauty buys i’m swearing by.

Remember a few months ago when I outed the contents of my ugly makeup hoard to all of the Internet, and then put myself on a self-induced grounding from all cosmetics purchases? Well, I fell off the wagon.

But there’s good news in my shameful downfall. I’ve found some of the best products I’ve ever used. Products I’m not sure how I lived without before.

Allow me to elaborate…

Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is everything that people say it is. I’ve read tons of reviews about this stuff and was dying to try it, but the $42 price tag scared me away for a long time. My daily makeup routine is really simple, and I love skin that looks natural, dewy, and real. This stuff goes on with a good amount of coverage and lasts all day (I don’t even use a setting powder most of the time). Best of all, it doesn’t irritate my super sensitive skin or give me breakouts, and a little goes a long way when applied to moisturized and primed skin. {My moisturizer and primer of choice, you ask? Right now it’s Burts Bees Radiance Day Lotion with SPF 15 and my tried-and-true Korres Face Primer}.

I received a sample of Benefit’s new Stay Don’t Stray from Sephora with an order and loved it. It’s meant to be a primer for eyeshadows and concealers, but it has enough coverage to act as a concealer on its own if your dark circles are minimal. I use this every day on my lids and under my eyes, and it takes less than a full pump to cover both eyes. It’s also great for the days that I don’t have time for shadow, but want to cover any redness or discoloration on my lids.

My friend, Perry, is a makeup artist and she led me to this little gem. I’ve used Nars Orgasm for years and I don’t think there’s a better blush out there — color payoff, quality, and the ridiculous long-lastingness (is that a word?) are just a few of the amazing things about Nars blushes. When Perry started wearing Nars Blush in Desire, I became a woman obsessed. In the package, it looks neon and scary. But when lightly applied with a good blush brush to the apples of your cheeks, it’s the perfect flush of pink. At $26, it may seem like a splurge you’re not ready to make, but this stuff is worth every penny.

When I brought home the new Urban Decay Naked eye palette and started using it every day, I literally threw out all of my other shadows. It comes with a great shadow brush and a small tube of their infamous Primer Potion, and it has enough colors to create dozens of eye looks from day to night. Perfect for natural smokey eyes!

I first heard of blinc Kiss Me Mascara when I received a deluxe sample of it in my Birchbox this month. The first day I used it, I panicked and thought it pulled all of my eyelashes out. This is the craziest and most amazing mascara I’ve ever used. You apply it just like regular mascara, but when it dries, it forms tiny little tubes around each individual lash. The tubes don’t flake, smudge, or run. At all. To remove the tubes, you use lots of warm water and your fingers to pull them off of your lashes. It kind of looks like tiny little spider legs in your hands, and it’s terrifying at first, but then you get used to it and it’s kind of fun and therapeutic at the end of a long day. As a contact wearer with sensitive light eyes, it’s the best mascara I’ve found yet for daily wear.

*All images from