Summer Beauty Splurges

Hi friends! I recently bought some new products for some summer fun, and if you’re looking for good make up reviews/suggestions, you’ve come to the right place.

What I love about summer make up is that it tends to be less dramatic and more on the carefree side. While I can be quite the smoky-eye and red lip enthusiast, I do enjoy playing down my look in the warmer months for a more natural, sun-kissed look.

For several months, I struggled with a dry, dull complexion that was only emphasized when I applied my regular make up (think foundation powders and powder blush). I was constantly exfoliating the gross flakes and whiteheads that popped up all over my T-zone, but to no avail. Luckily, I did some experimenting with a new face care regimen, and my face has been absolutely glowing these days (stay tuned for a follow-up post on the products I used to achieve this). With a properly hydrated base to work with, I splurged on some new make up that would play up the dewy, fresh look that I love so much! All of these can be found in the April issue of InStyle Magazine, and were rated first-in-class for their product types.

RMS Living Luminizer – Sephora ($38)rms living luminizer

I was underwhelmed by the standard size of this product initially, but after using it for the first time, it became apparent that a little goes a long way. Dab your fingers onto the product, applying a good amount of pressure, and swipe onto your cheekbones after applying blush. Have fun with this, because it’s a very natural look – there’s nothing super sparkly or obnoxious about the way this luminizer goes on. Pat on the corners of your eyes, up to your temples, and even on the middle area of your nose for that extra shine. 9/10 – only because it can be a bit difficult to get as much as you want of this product out of the jar at a time.

Stila Convertible Color Cream Blush (Peony)Sephora ($28)


This is a FANTASTIC blush. Prior to this, I was using a Benefit powder blush that only accentuated my dry skin, and sat on top of it unattractively rather than enhanced my coloring. This cream blush is perfect for my dry skin, and soaks right in after I moisturize in the morning. I got this product in the brightest possible color — partially so that I’d only have to use a little at a time, and partially because I wanted to look like Miranda Kerr (who always has bright, glowing cheeks). Despite its vivid hue, this blush does NOT go on heavily and will help you achieve a similar flush to a day spent in the sun. Dab primarily on the apples of your cheeks and blend up near your temples. 10/10! 

Charlotte Tilbury Rock n’ Kohl Eyeliner (Bedroom Black) – Nordstrom ($27)


I like this eyeliner, but you can’t use a heavy hand to apply it or you’ll look way more Goth than fun-in-the-sun. The nice thing about this liner is that it lasts through the day; I could swear it’s almost waterproof, although this claim is not found anywhere on the packaging. The black color is a bit darker than I would’ve liked; I probably would have been better off with a brown or a lighter hue, but overall, it’s a good product that works well and lasts through the day. 8/10 (because I’m not in love with it, and because of the price). 

These are my newest products, but I’ve paired them with some of my tried-and-trues that look amazing when they’re all applied at once. I use Benefit Sun Beam Golden-Bronze Liquid Highlighter ($26), which I dab in the hollows under my cheeks that form when I suck in, as well as on my temples and brow bones. Provides a great sun-kissed look without the feeling of caking product on (like you’d need to with a powder bronzer).


I’ll typically proceed to apply eyes shadow after this, and I usually use my Urban Decay NAKED Palette ($54). I use the gold color, “Half-Baked,” on my lids and a bit of the glittery brown “Smog” in my crease, with the lightest shade, “Virgin,” beneath my brows and all over the corners of my eyes. If I’m going for a more toned-down look, I’ll skip this step completely and finish off the look with tinted balm, gloss, or my Clinique Rosette Lipstick ($17), which glides on with a hint of shimmer and a silky feel.

The way you apply your make up and, more specifically, which products you use, depends on the occasion. Opt for minimal make up on beach days, or a full face of these fabulous products for a night out!



FRESH Sugar Lip Balm vs. Burt’s Bees: What’s Worth the Splurge?

I’ve become a big fan of tinted lip balms recently. I love the dramatic look of lipsticks, and the playful nature of lip gloss, but I’ve found that the most practical option by far for every day is lip balm.

It can’t just be regular lip balm, sans tint or color. I’m not a fan of looking dead (as I often do when I don’t wear enough make-up: cue “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry), yet I find that wearing a bold lip to the office results in 1) a gross mess around the rim of my water bottle early in the day, and 2) staining the crease above my chin after lunch, neither of which is pretty.

A few months ago, I splurged on a FRESH Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment after having constantly heard great things about the brand. Here’s what I thought:


Pros: I love that the tube is sleek and shimmery, and that the product boasts an SPF 15, which is important for me because I have an inordinate number of freckles on my bottom lip. The Rosé color worked well with my skin tone, although I usually find that deeper colors work best with my complexion as a fair-skinned brunette.

Cons: The feel of the balm is a bit too waxy for my taste. It also leaves a greasy film on the rims of glasses and water bottles. Lastly, one tube of SUGAR lip tint is a whopping $24, and you can only buy it at specialty beauty stores like Sephora and Nordstrom.

…I burned through the SUGAR lip tint in about six months. Originally, I planned on buying another, but since I don’t live near a Sephora and didn’t feel like paying an extra $5+ shipping for a tube of lip balm, I stopped by CVS and picked up a Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm instead.

There are many things I like about the Burt’s Bees brand. For one, their products are made with all-natural ingredients (I wash my dog, in fact, with Burt’s Bees for Dogs Smoothing Skin Shampoo). I’ve also used their facial cleanser before, so I’m familiar with and trust the brand. Here’s what I thought after trying the Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm (also in a Rosé color):


Pros:  The color is simple and fresh, and its texture is lighter and less waxy than the SUGAR lip tint but still provides the same hydrating moisture. It also smells a bit like cherries when you take off the cap, and you can’t beat the low drugstore price ($4.50).

Cons: The color isn’t as vivid as the SUGAR lip tint, and doesn’t have the same luxurious reputation/feel (which isn’t so much a con as it is an observation).

And the winner is:

burt's bees lip balm
I’m truly a fan of both of these products, but if you’re looking to spend significantly less and tend to be more eco-friendly/organically-minded, Burt’s Bees is the way to go.


On a side note, this great Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer (in Rhubarb) is in its own category. I couldn’t compare it fairly to the other two products, because it’s really more of a non-sticky lip gloss than a balm. It’s not something you can swipe on the way you can a tinted lip balm. Because of its bold color, it’s necessary to use a mirror for precision as you’re applying it. However, it’s 100% natural, doesn’t require as much of a process as applying lipstick does, and leaves a slightly tingly, minty feeling on your lips after application. The sensation reminded me a bit of a lip plumper, but this isn’t stated anywhere on the label, so I’m probably wrong. Also — only $3.89!

Happy lip balm-ing! 🙂




The Skinny on Processed Foods: Why Eating Natural Doesn’t Mean Eating Less

As a follow-up to my last article, I’m going to break down what living a truly natural lifestyle means, as well as the dangers that processed and fast foods pose to your health over time.

It’s no secret that when we’re hungry – really hungry – we tend to reach for foods that will fill us up quickly, without much preparation required and without having to spend an arm and a leg. What does this often mean?

If you’re anything like me, it generally means carbs (think pizza, burgers, large hoagies, etc.) The thing about these foods – particularly the two I listed, as they can be generally healthy fast food picks if you get them from the right place – is that they’re OK once a week. Think Friday nights or Saturday afternoons between running errands. However, if this is the way you choose to fuel your body on a regular basis, you should know that you’ll often lack energy and feel sluggish – and not just because you’ll gain weight like crazy on a meal plan that consists of junk. Our bodies need more than carbs, fat, and sugar to run properly. In fact, these are the very elements that fast food is generally comprised of that leave you feeling so gross afterward. Too much sugar, too much fat, and simple carbohydrates will leave you uncomfortably stuffed and bloated, make you dehydrated, spike your blood sugar levels, and will leave you feeling hungry again just a few hours later.

They key to healthy, natural eating is to aim to stock up on all of the healthy vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function as it should. I’ve found that this often means discounting the number of calories it takes to get this type of nutrition, and instead focusing on the quality of your food, and the great benefits your body is getting from it.

So many people buy into the calorie-counting hype that the media and weight loss programs push, and what this usually means is that these same individuals will select low-calorie meals and snacks – even if they are terrible for you – for the sake of trying to stay within a suggested calorie intake range each day. Examples of these low-calorie snacks include sugary granola bars; “light” yogurts, salad dressings, and creams; diet drinks, and artificial sweeteners.  

Are these products low in calories? Yes – but have you ever stopped to consider why? Have you ever read the ingredients on the nutritional label of these products, and if so, how often did you recognize these ingredients? How familiar with them were you?

The sneaky thing about processed, low-calorie foods and snacks is that the companies who manufacture them need to fill them with something to make their taste semi-palatable; otherwise, no one would touch these foods. Ingredients like aspartame, mono and diglycerides, and artificial colors and preservatives are only some of the names you should look out for on any given pre-packaged food label. These and similar “ingredients” are foreign to your body; they were never meant for human consumption, so upon entering your body, your vital organs don’t know what to do them or where to store the “nutrition.” When your body can’t, ultimately, figure out how to process these ingredients, it stores them away from your vital organs, recognizing them as dangerous substances, and they are instead stored as fat, which is housed far from your vital organs just under your skin.

More food for thought: in college, my freshman year biology professor briefly covered the effects of sucralose – an artificial, noncaloric sweetener created by tampering with the natural chemical composition of sugar – on the body. Sucralose is generally used in diet drinks as a sugar substitute. What my professor told us about sucralose changed the way I thought about diet drinks and artificial sugar for good: when rats consumed sucralose in an experiment, all of them developed cancer and died over a span of 159 weeks.

In my opinion, this tells us everything we need to know about artificial sweeteners; not only specifically sucralose, but aspartame and others, as well. Avoid it. Not only will it lead to an increase in weight over time, but no number of calories saved is worth the adverse effects of these toxins on your body. How the dieting and food industry gets away with using it in so many products, I have no clue.

The point of all of this, which I’m hoping you’ve already arrived at on your own, is to eat foods that your body will recognize and use for proper nutrition. You don’t even have to eat all-organic (although I do recommend eating organic foods when you can, simply because you will greatly reduce your risk of consuming poisonous pesticides, preservatives, and foreign ingredients in doing so). Just eat things that make sense, and that have been around forever.

Speaking of which: although I’m not a fan of any regimented diet that restricts you to only certain foods, the Paleo Diet makes a lot of sense to me. I am not promoting it or even encouraging it, but it is a diet centered around eating foods that could be found in nature during the time of our earliest ancestors (cavemen and the like). This diet primarily consists of natural grains, seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, dairy, and lean meats.

Our ancestors were generally fit and healthy, and cancer didn’t exist during that period of time. I realize that correlation does not always assume causation, but it is something that stands out to me that I feel is worth consideration. Why not eat more natural foods – foods that aren’t processed or man-made – and see how our bodies respond? It seems to me that we can only benefit from this lifestyle change.

Bottom line: concern yourself less with how many calories you consume, and more with what kinds of calories they are. Will your body recognize the type of food you’re thinking of putting into your body? Will it provide any type of nutritional value? Will it leave you feeling bloated, sluggish, and dissatisfied, or will it boost your energy levels, your immune system, and your overall health?

Ditch the stereotypical diet “foods,” and start eating clean today!



It’s Not a Diet; It’s a Lifestyle

If you’ve read health articles, beauty magazines, and watched YouTube videos for nutritional advice over the years, the title of this article is probably not a groundbreaking idea for you. Slowly, our culture is becoming less diet-crazed and skinny-obsessed and returning to a healthier approach to food and nutrition. Still, it’s difficult not to compare ourselves to celebrities, models, and even friends who look great. With these examples of what it supposedly means to be “beautiful” all around us, it would be irrational for us not to seek to embody the culture’s definition of beauty.

For one thing (and I need to say it, even though you’ve heard it a thousand times): you don’t have to be a stick to be beautiful. You’re probably rolling your eyes right about now, but here’s something a little more controversial for you to chew on: I’m not saying it’s particularly attractive to “embrace your curves,” either. Naturally, women have different shapes and body types, which they can’t (and shouldn’t) try to alter. The results can be detrimental to a woman’s physical and emotional health. However, it should be addressed that the latest media craze to “embrace your curves” often downplays the fact that many women are carrying around an unhealthy amount of extra weight, and  claims that they do not necessarily need to lose it to be beautiful.

Let’s be honest, here: it’s not beautiful to be overweight. It’s not beautiful to be underweight. What’s beautiful is health, and a healthy lifestyle often results in an ideal weight for the person pursuing it. The two are directly related. If you pursue a healthy lifestyle, you will likely achieve your ideal weight in time.

This is why I cannot stress enough that “diets” are definitely out. There is no reason for you to hop on the Weight Watchers bandwagon, or to pursue a restricted diet of your own (such as the Military Diet, the Atkins Diet, etc.) when you have the means and ability to lose weight in a much healthier, overall more satisfying way, without having to deprive your body of all of the nutrients it needs for optimal health.

The thing about diets is that they end. Whether it’s a weight-loss program, or whether you’re following a diet you found on the internet for x number of days (or until you reach your goal weight), you can only continue with these regimented and restrictive plans to lose weight for so long before you have to quit. Why?

Well, for one thing, if you’re shedding pounds, it’s not because you’re necessarily eating healthily; it’s because you’re eating less. Yes, it is necessary to eat fewer calories if you’re trying to lose weight, but the quality of those calories matters. Diet programs tend to focus less on the quality of calories you’re consuming and more on how few calories you consume, which will result in the dieter feeling hungry, cranky, and dissatisfied after just one or two days. The dieter is much more likely to fail under these circumstances – isn’t it natural for a person to want to binge-eat when their body goes into starvation mode?

Contrary to the disappointment and feelings of failure you’re likely to experience on a strict diet, an all-natural diet allows you to eat what you want, when you want, without the guilt of “cheating” and without the hassle of worrying about calories as much. While the amount of calories you consume will still dictate whether or not you ultimately lose weight, the right calories will leave your body feeling satisfied so that you won’t feel the need to eat more than you should. More than this, when you take the time to nourish yourself with healthy foods, your body responds in an overwhelmingly positive way, often with a boost in energy levels, a clearer complexion, muscle development (for those abs you’ve been working on), blood sugar stabilization, and better digestion, to name a few.

Beginning a healthy lifestyle starts today. Purge your kitchen of creamy salad dressings (even the reduced-fat ones), all sodas (especially diet), sugary juices/snacks, granola bars, candy, and potato chips, and stock up on organic, natural foods. Become mindful of what you eat, how you eat, and how you prepare it, and treat your body like the temple it is! When putting wholesome foods into your body truly becomes a lifestyle, it will reflect on the scale and in your clothes – and it’ll feel better than ever.