Mar 26, 2015

My Post-Lash Extension Journey

I 100% know that the eyes are the "windows to the soul", yet somehow that hasn't stopped me from abusing them my whole life.  I didn't start using an under eye cream until I was 28 years old (the horror!), and more recently I've gotten hooked on eyelash extensions.  My older, wiser self should probably know that they're a terrible idea and not good for your eyelashes, but I can't help but want those long, feathery suckers glued onto my eyes.  Now that I'm taking a break from eyelash extensions, I'm trying to take care of my poor, broken-lashed eyes and make them look slightly presentable for public settings.  Here's what's in my eye arsenal at the moment:

A necessity whether you've had lash extensions or not, and want beautiful butterfly lashes.  This stuff really works, and there's no worry about "dark iris pigmentation" or any other tomfoolery.  It conditions the lashes and brows with a patented Hexatein™1 Complex, which is a unique mix of six lash-boosting ingredients, for super fast results.  In less than a month you might see results (I know I did!).  I have pretty sensitive eyes as well and had no issues with redness or irritation while using this.  

Tarteist Clay Paint Liner
Whilst my lashes are recuperating, great eyeliner is even more of a necessity than usual.  A perfectly drawn line really close to the natural lash line (and a little bit in between the lashes) helps me to fake a fuller lash appearance.  Plus this is just a fun product for your inner artist.  It was inspired by a painter's palette, where you squeeze the paint on the palette surface, and pick the pigment up on your artist's brush that comes with.  The brush is so thin that it helps you to pick up the right amount without overdoing it, because the cream is a beautifully pigmented jet black and you only need a little bit.  It's also made with Amazonian Clay, so instead of getting greasy during the day and smudging, the clay absorbs oil so your liner actually stays put for 12 hours (or more).  

Let's be serious, if you haven't tried Illamasqua makeup brushes yet, you need to get on it!  Pictured here are the Angled Brush and the Fine Eyeliner Brush With Cover; both of which are fabulous for brows and eyeliner applications.  

Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel 
While we're in painting mode, we should discuss brows.  Brows are mandatory these days.  Especially if you have blonde brows like mine that are near transparent.  Good brows might distract from any other eye evil that is happening, like a lack of lashes.  This Illamasqua formula (now available at Net-A-Porter!) is a creamy gel formula that you only need the teeniest bit to give you perfect brows.  The key is to basically draw/fill in your natural brow hairs (or lack thereof) in the same direction as your natural brow growth.  It blends in sooooo easily and stays put all day.  And, bonus, unlike a lot of brow colors out there, there is actually a shade for redheads!   
4 shades available: 
Awe (blonde)
Glimpse (auburn)
Stare (ebony) 
Strike (brunette) 

So back to lashes for a moment.  One thing you don't want to do, pre, during, or post extensions, is pull your natural eyelashes out.  We have all been there, and it hurts.  One of the easiest ways to pull your lashes out is when you're reapplying mascara.  Urban Decay, who I almost get tired of loving so much, has come up with a mascara reviver.  This serum goes on top of your old mascara application and handles all types of issues.  It separates them, WITHOUT tugging, and softens them so that you can apply a fresh coat of mascara for a night out.  Plus it moisturizes the lashes with copper powder and panthenol so that it's actually improving your lash health over time.  Seriously brilliant.      

Kate Somerville True Lash Lash Enhancing Makeup Remover
And let's talk about taking it all off.  Obviously we know it's a good idea to take your makeup off at night, kids, but why not simultaneously strengthen your lashes while you're doing it?  This Kate Somerville formula has a "SymLash226 Complex" that strengthens and promotes lash growth.  Don't worry about the ingredients, because we're talking avocado oil, green tea, white tea, fig blossom, sodium hyaluronate, chamomile, and aloe vera.  What you get is something the effectively takes your makeup off, moisturizes the eye area, reduces under-eye puffiness, AND promotes lash growth in just a few weeks.  My tired, broken, puffy, sad eyes didn't know what they were missing until I was introduced to this puppy.  

Mar 18, 2015

Benz's Book Club: March 2015

A creepy, dark book if you're into Gillian Flynn and Chevy Stevens:

The One That Got Away by Simon Wood

An interesting book because it gives you the POV of the victim AND the criminal.  What's not to love about a look into the deep, twisted psyche of a criminal?  And then to get to feel the victim's anger, animosity, anxiety in juxtaposition with the criminal's feelings?  Just spectacular.  It doesn't hurt that it's an easy read.  One long flight or rainy day inside and you'll finish this puppy.  You definitely won't want to put it down, but don't worry… You're probably too creeped out to leave the house anyways.

A good whodunnit:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book can totally fall into the "creepy and dark" category as well, but since that's the majority of what I read, I figure I'll categorize this as the whodunnit of the two.  In contrast to the story where you know what the killer is thinking, you're guessing the whole time who it is.  Guessing who the killer is, however, doesn't take away one bit of the visceral feelings you get about the protagonist.  You love her.  You hate her.  You feel for her.  Regardless of what you think of her, she's dead set on finding out who the murderer is, whether it puts her in danger or not.  Now that I think of it, just lock yourself in your apartment all weekend and read both books.  You don't need to go outside for anything anyways.

A great gift for the fashionista in your life:
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits  by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret, and Sophie Mas

If you have a cool girl in your life (blogger, fashionista, foreign exchange student, etc), even if you are the cool girl in your life, then this book is a must.  It's a collection of whimsical little stories, quips, and lists from 4 Frenchies that have been friends for years.  It's romantic, moody, cool, and frivolous, just like the authors themselves.  The feminist in me loved every minute of it, and made me want to book a one-way ticket to Paris.

And something to warm the heart:
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Because you can't just read murder mysteries and watch SVU all day (trust me, I try), here's something to warm up that little black-as-coal heart of yours.  A great mother-daughter love story, and it's got elephants!  You can't lose!  This book will certainly take the longest to read of the whole list, but it's worth every minute of your time.  Picoult, as she frequently does, tells a tale that is easy for her readers to follow, but then BAM, throws you for an unexpected twist.  Her research that she does for each book is incredible, and this one takes us into the world of elephant behavior.  They're so much like us as humans, as mothers, as children.  After reading this, I will be surprised if you don't make a little donation to helping the elephants... Right after you call your mother and tell her you love her.

Mar 17, 2015

Drink Recipes: St. Patrick's Day Cocktails

Shamrock Sipper
·         1 ½ parts Skinnygirl® Cucumber Vodka
·         6 parts green tea (water steeped with tea bags OR diet green tea)
·         Cucumber wheel for garnish

Pour ingredients over ice. Garnish with a cucumber wheel.

Lucky March Mojito
·         1 part Skinnygirl® Prosecco
·         1 part light rum
·         1 tsp. agave nectar
·         3 parts lime juice
·         Splash of lime flavored sparkling water
·         3 sprigs of mint

Shake rum, lime juice and agave nectar in cocktail shaker with ice.  Top with Skinnygirl Prosecco and sparkling water, and pour into tall Collins glass. Muddle in mint leaves. 

Blarney Stone Brewski
·         1 part Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
·         1 part chilled light beer
·         2 parts raspberry lemonade concentrate
·         Apple slice for garnish

Mix all ingredients over ice and serve. Garnish with apple slice.

Mint Margarita
·        1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
·        2 ½ parts club soda
·        1 part fresh lime juice
·        1 bunch of fresh mint
·        1 part sugar
·        Salt to rim (optional)
·        Extra mint leaves (for garnish)
·        Lime wedge (for garnish)

PreparationIn a glass, muddle together the mint leaves, sugar and lime juice until they start to melt together. Add tequila. Fill glass with ice and pour cocktail mixture 3/4 of the way to the top of each glass. Rim your glass with salt by rubbing the rim with a lime wedge and dipping in a plate of salt. Fill glass with club soda and garnish with an extra sprig of mint and lime wedge.

Lucky Rita
  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Melon Liqueur
  • 2 parts limeade
  • Sugar
  • Lemon slice ( for garnish)

Preparation: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice combine all ingredients and shake to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice and rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Sour Apple Margarita
  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Sour Apple Pucker
  • 2 parts frozen limeade
  • 2 parts apple juice
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (for garnish)

Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled or over ice. Garnish with apple slice.

Mar 12, 2015

Get It Before It's Gone: Stila Convertible Color Palette

Sometimes I'm late to adopt a beauty product that everyone already knows about.  Maybe I think I don't need it in my arsenal, or it's too expensive.  Whatever the case may be, I didn't pick up a limited edition Stila Convertible Color Palette when it came out, and now, after I got the message LOUD AND CLEAR during Fashion Week that I must have it, I scrambled to get one before it's sold out.  It's one thing when you see a few artists backstage carrying common items in their kits, but when Sarah Lucero (amazing makeup artist and Global Director of Creative Artistry at Stila) uses an item at every single fashion show she does?  Well, that's when I start to pay attention.  It's $49 and has 12 awesome shades that can be used on the lips or the cheeks.  Sign me up.    

Banana Republic Fall 2015:
Lucero used Stay All Day 10-in-1 Illuminating Beauty Balm, Major MAJOR Lash Mascara, Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Sienna, and Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color.  She used Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Tesoro for this incredible coral-y red pop lip color, and then used the Convertible Color Palette on each girl in a shade that complemented both their skin tone, and the pop lip color.  

Photo courtesy of Stila

Alice + Olivia Fall 2015:
A very different look at A+O, but I bet you can guess what the common denominator is.  This time Lucero opted for a lip color using Acai Crush lip stain, but the Convertible Color Palette was still the star backstage.

Photo courtesy of Stila
I'm not going to bore you with all the details of every show this palette was used in, because I think you're getting the idea... but if you need more proof, here's it being used at Clover Canyon and the ever-popular shade Camellia being used at Rebecca Minkoff.
Clover Canyon pic courtesy of Stila 

Rebecca Minkoff pic courtesy of Stila 
And here is my beauty in real life, because I obviously had to immediately run out and buy it.

From left to right: Lillium, Magnolia, Tulip, Camellia, Peony, Rose

From left to right: Gladiola (which is maybe my favorite), Peach Blossom, Hibiscus, Gerbera, Petunia, Fuchsia

Mar 10, 2015

Best Beauty News You'll Hear This Week

Combine 3 things that are awesome and what do you get?  Urban Decay + Gwen Stefani + a global initiative to empower women = Ultraviolet Edge. 

The Ultraviolet Edge is Urban Decay's global initiative to empower women by offering support to organizations that fight for the rights of women all over the world.  With the money raised by The Ultraviolet Edge, Urban Decay plans on donating 3 million dollars over the next 5 years, going to various causes that support women.  But the awesomeness doesn't end there, folks.  The Ultraviolet Edge also recognizes inspirational women, and they're starting with GWEN.  Urban Decay was founded in 1996, which is around the same time I became fully obsessed with Gwen and wanted to grow up to be just like her.  I feel vindicated about my high school stalker qualities knowing that she shares UD's passion for empowering women. 
Speaking of women who are awesome, get familiar with the name Karen Sugar.  Karen’s organization is the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, which helps women in post- war Uganda.  When you buy the limited-edition Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Enigma, 100% of your purchase price goes toward The Ultraviolet Edge, which will then provide grants for WGEF.  You read that correctly: 100% (unlike some other products that donate a portion of the proceeds).  You buy an eyeshadow primer, and a women in Uganda gets to join a literacy program and get business training to become a leader in her community.  I've never heard a better reason to buy a makeup product, EVER.  The Enigma Eyeshadow Primer Potion is just the first in a series of limited-edition products that will fund The Ultraviolet Edge and help women all over the world.  Head to and get one now!

Mar 8, 2015

Change your beauty game this spring

In this instant-gratification-world we live in these days, you can get anything you want at the click of a button.  Food delivered, laundry picked up, exercise classes booked, instagram stalking done... Technology is making our lives easier and the beauty world is no exception.  You used to buy foundation, now you buy foundation that turns back the hands of time with its ingredients.  You used to use a curling iron to curl your hair, but now you can buy a curling iron that curls the hair for you.    I'm in work-smarter-not-harder mode with my beauty routine, and these are some of the products making my life easier these days.           

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur
What doesn't this stuff do?  It cures your pimples and makes your skin look flawless, so really there shouldn't be much more to say, but I feel compelled to tell you everything else it does too.  It covers blemishes, conceals dark spots, corrects redness, makes pores near invisible, evens the skin tone, ABSORBS OIL (so genius for you oily skin guys and gals out there), and has cool blurring technology that gives you an airbrushed look.  The texture is really great too, because it feels like a mousse and goes on super light, but can still absorb up to 3x its weight in oil.  Matte skin all day but still gentle on sensitive skin?  Sign me up.      

Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask
Masks no longer have to dry your skin out in order to cure your acne.  This is a gel-cream mask that foams up to dissolve impurities from the pores without making your skin feel crackly.  Colloidal Sulfur reduces acne, while a botanical blend of Boswellia Serrata (the plant that produces Indian Frankincense), honey extract, and rice bran soothes the skin.  Plus, it's just kind of fun that it's pink and foaming.  It's classic girly fun, but, more importantly, effective at reducing blackheads and acne. 

St Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Mousse
Sorry, but waiting all day for your tan to develop is no longer cool.  I'm sure you have some sort of Soul Cycle class or Anti-gravity Yoga mumbo jumbo that you need to get to today, so save yourself a few hours and switch to this stuff.  This self-tanner develops in as little as 1 hour.  Bottom line is that there is no self-tanner out there that fully develops that quickly.  You choose how deep you want the color by the amount of time you leave it on.  If you want a really deep tan, you can leave it on for 3 hours, which is still faster than anything else out there. 
T3 Twirl 360 Motion-Sensing Auto-Rotating Curling Iron
If you're a lazy person, or a person who doesn't know how to curl their hair properly, this can be a dream come true for you.  I actually love it because my arm doesn't get tired curling my hair.  It's the little things in life that make me happy.  Also, the rose gold hardware is so pretty!  But let's not get distracted by shiny, pretty things.  The technology behind this iron is great.  You don't have to worry about burning your hair off or getting your hair caught in some weird contraption, because it basically functions the way a regular curling iron with a clamp does, it's just that you push a button and the barrel curls towards you.  Somehow it reflexively knows which way to turn based on how you're holding it, which I find magical, but it's actual the same gyroscopic technology that has been used for years in fields like aviation and space exploration.  If it's good enough for astronauts, it's certainly good enough for my limp locks.   

Feb 26, 2015

JINsoon X Tila March

Gotta love a good collaboration!  This time Jin Soon Choi and accessories designer Tamara Taichman (of Tila March) designed their spring collection together to celebrate all things fun and springy.  They came up with 4 super fun colors that are all available in patent leather bags, sandals, and nail lacquers.  

The colors are: Tila (deep green), Farouche (fuchsia), Enflammée (coral-y orange), Charme (citron), and Doux (a pinky nude).  The nail lacquers are $18 a pop, the sandals are at $395, and the bags are from $320-$550.  The JIN Vanity Case is a bag exclusive to the collection ($550) that has a compartment inside just for nail polish.
The JIN Vanity Case pictured above in Tila (deep green)

Me wearing ALL the colors.  Because why not?

From left to right: Doux, Enflammée, Tila, Charme, Farouche

Some more cool nail art ideas below, courtesy of JINsoon!


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