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Charting the style of daily life...with the mouth of a sailor.


Mask Monday

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On Sundays, I get deep --- by steaming open and cleansing my pores. Except I've totally skipped it these last few weeks. I've been so lazy with my skincare lately and it shows. So tonight? I MASK! I typically whip up  my own (more on that laterzzz) but here are a few great store bought options that I keep on hand for when I'm especially lazy. 

Juice Beauty's line of organic skincare is right up my alley. This clay based mask clears pores and helps control oil without stripping skin of its vital, precious moisture. $24
Peter Thomas Roth's Cucumber Gel mask has been ever present in my regime because of its versatility. It can be used as a full facial mask or for a quick, de-puffing undereye mask. A thin layer on clean skin can be worn overnight for extra hydration. The tub can also be kept in the fridge during summer for a cooling treat. Regardless of season or reason, this mask calms and soothes all skin types. $45

Think of me tonight when my green and crumbling mask is frightening my children. Happy Masking!

I fell in LOVE with Valmont during my spa days. All the estheticians were wild for it and the results spoke for themselves. The Purifying Pack mask was my fave because it left my skin perfectly clean yet not stripped dry and my skin absolutely glowed after use. Ok, it's quite a splurge but so worth it if you're passionate about skincare. $140
I've always been a huge fan of Bliss and founder Marcia Kilgore. The Steep Clean series of products is fantastic for exfoliating and brightening skin but also for busting the dirt and grime that clog pores and make them appear bigger. $55

The Five | Easter Essentials

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For me...

Pretty hats +  little girls in white gloves + nibbles of chocolate + sips of champagne  + my family's {intense} game of Pic-A-Me = the perfect celebration of Spring!

I'll be missing my sweet Nan this year, who was always the most beautiful, most elegant person to sit at our family table. I'll be wearing her signature Lily of the Valley scent in her honor...



The Five | Where the F^@$ is Spring?

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Spring Break starts now. No, we're not going anywhere sunny but we are getting out of town for a few days. My plan involves a few meals at my favorite restaurant and not a whole lot else. I'm in a bit of a sour mood due to recent legislation in Indiana and the very un-Spring-like weather we've been [not] enjoying this week (and a week that started with doing my taxes and getting blood drawn --- I'm not sure what's worse). I'm bound and determined to turn my mood around so here are some of the bright spots from the past few days.

* Little League is starting back up and I'm really excited to see my oldest on the field again. He's certainly no slugger but there are valuable lessons to be learned from participating in team sports and he needs to learn them. And seriously, watching little kids try to field is hysterical. #letsplaytwo


* My sibs and I threw a little birthday lunch for our mother (she loved it) and I finally got to use my Oh Joy for Target party paraphernalia. This was my Mum's first birthday after losing her mother (my sweet and sorely missed Nan) and we wanted to make sure she was the sole focus of our get-together. Thus, we opted for lunch at her favorite Chinese resto, when we could easily pull it off without 73 little kids making the meal all about them. #surprise!


* After moving into our new house, we started hearing the beautiful, haunting sounds of an owl at random times throughout the day. After a few conversations with neighbors, we discovered there are two of them and they spend most of their time in the pine trees in our backyard! My husband managed to capture some awesome pictures of them this week. #hootyhoot

* My skinny-ass brows (I also have skinny ankles and wrists, but that's about it) are always in need of a product or two and after testing quite a few (so, so many, really) of the latest and {not so} greatest brow mascaras, I've settled on an absolute fave: L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper. The formula is a great consistency and the triangle spooly brush is the perfect size to offer precion AND proper coverage. Bonus: It's under 10 bones. #cheapthrills


* Mint has been my color of choice for the last few months and the feeling is only increasing as summer gets closer. Whenever I get hooked on a color, I get dangerously close to accidentally dressing head to toe in it. To prevent that nonsense, I'm having fun experimenting with complimentary hues that make mint pop. #mintyfresh

If you happen to be enjoying an actual Spring Break this year, please have a cocktail (or five) on the beach for me!

K, bye.


The French Style Secret

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I'm not French (obvi). No amount of willing it to be so won't change this fact - believe me, I've tried. But that doesn't stop me from trying to learn the elusive style secrets of the legendarily chic French woman. I'm a sucker for style books in general but even more so for those of the Parisian variety. If I've learned one thing from all this reading, it's this: You must not appear to have tried. That's it. That's the big French secret. APPEAR as if you've not tried, even though you might have spent hours on your look. An elaborate smoky eye, involved nail art or a complicated clothing ensemble shows you've spent lots of time on your look, which equals effort. As far as I can tell, the stylish Parisian wants the world to believe they are naturally gorgeous and stylish. Nothing should be too perfect, too precious.

But here's the real genius of it all: it can be a brilliant time and money saver. Less makeup, fewer manicures, less of everything. It's freeing, in a way. You don't need to follow seasonal trends if you're into the Parisian approach. You simply find what silhouettes and colors work best for you and stick with them. Invest in quality pieces that last for years rather than buying loads of trend pieces that end up in the donate pile after one season. The trick is that you still need to spend time grooming and prepping. There's a fine line between effortless and sloppy.  Pay attention to the details and cultivate your style signatures -- a particular scent, a red lip, a scarf tied around the handle of your handbag, etc.

What this all really translates into for me is that it's okay to stay a little lazy when it comes to my personal style. I don't get weekly manicures, I prefer fresh, glowing skin - even with a few blemishes - to a face camouflaged by heavy foundation. I like soft, comfy fabrics in neutral colors and eschew harsh colors or patterns, for the most part. I use a few key accessories to add color or interest to my simple clothing. While I always pay attention to the trends (it's part of my job,  you see) I can easily let them slide by without trying them for myself. Basically, this is as French as I'll ever be. Bonjour! 



Navigate the Spring 2015 Fashion & Beauty Trends

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Yes, fashion month for Fall 2015 just wrapped but since we live in the real world, it's Spring 2015 we need to focus on. No matter how much snow has piled up in your slice of the world, Spring is ACTUALLY coming soon and trust me, you'll want to be prepared. As soon as Spring has sprung, you'll be itching to wear sandals, lighter textures and bright, cheery colors. Here's a brief recap of the coolest trends shown last September:

* Denim never goes out of style but this season, look for more polished pieces in the form of chambray. I'm more than a little in love with these joggers from Matilda Jane, a girl's clothing line that's just released its first comprehensive women's collection. 

* The sport trend is still going strong but has been refined by adding details like mesh to daily staples like sweaters and pencil skirts, rather than taking the trend too literal with track jackets and the like. Perforated fabrics make anything look cool and sporty and the pieces are easily mixed in to your closet. 

* A pastel handbag will add just the ladylike swath of color every outfit needs. Bonus: Break it out now to bring a little life into all the boring Winter clothes you're sick of wearing.

* Gingham plaid by DVF appeared youthful, carefree and modern,, not twee, when blown up in size or done in bold black or cobalt blue. Stay away from red to avoid looking like a picnic table.

* Ballet seems to have been an inspiration point for some designers including Michael Kors and Valentino for Spring 2015. Look for wrap sweaters, ballet flats and slices of sheer fabrics or tulle details (think gauzy maxi skirts). When done in pastel, the look is soft and feminine, when in black, its modern and bold. Just don't wear these signature pieces all at once --- unless you happen to be coming straight from barre class.

* The military trend never seems to go away---it's been refreshed once more by fashion heavy-hitters like Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu. Again, steer away from head to toe looks so you don't look costume-y. An anorak, slim cargo pants or a jacket featuring epaulettes will be just the dose you need. Hit up your local army-navy store for authentic web belts, patches and pins for a little DIY action on pieces you may already own.

* The 1970's were a big inspiration -- and have been for a few seasons, including Fall 2015. Go for exaggerated flare jeans, flowing bohemian maxi dresses, flower prints and embellishments, crocheted or embroidered details, suede jackets and dresses, denim skirts and platform sandals with everything and you've got it down.

Pro tip: You can easily blend trends like pastel + sport mesh but shy away from wearing multiple trends at once. Too much! On the other hand, do what you want and be happy about it. #YOLO, amIright?


* I think we all tend to lighten up our  makeup when the warmer temps set in so the lip trend for Spring 2015 is definitely a departure. Deep berry lips were seen all over from light raspberry to bold plum. There's a shade in there for every skin tone and can add instant drama to the bare faced complexion trend happening that I'm getting ready to mention...

* I personally love the no makeup look (or "no makeup" look for those who log serious mirror time to make it look like they're not wearing any). Marc Jacobs' models were authentically makeup free while those at Jason Wu, Victoria Beckham and Chloe were given a less is more vibe with a hint of natural, pinky nudes. #IWOKEUPLIKETHIS

* As for color, lavender and lilac were all the rage for eyes, whether for shadows or liners. If neither is for you, try a purple mascara which will give just a wink of color. See what I did there? Aren't I cute...?

* More good news for lazy girls like me -- one of the biggest hair trends is the undone look. You know, like the cool Parisian girl slash model-off-duty look everyone is always trying to achieve (it's actually harder than it looks). With air dried texture, messy looped ponys that sit low on the neck or less than perfect braids speak to the trend and translate into much less time with your round brush and hot tools

* For phalanges, the big to-do is the negative space mani. Paint just your half moons or vice versa or a single stripe down the side of an otherwise nude nail. Just know that your nail and surrounding skin must be in perfect shape to properly pull this off. Go here for some inspo. Otherwise, soft pastels in pink, peach, lavender and mint are your best bets for a standard polished look, especially when the finish is creamy, not shimmery or glittery.

Just typing this post made me hopeful for Spring! I can almost feel the sun on my face... Oh! Nope, that's the burning tingle of frostbite.  


58 Hours in Savannah

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I tagged along with my husband on a business trip to Savannah, Georgia last week and had such an amazing time. I explored the beautiful and incredibly charming historic district, spent some quality alone time at the spa (steaming, kneading and buffing every single square inch of my dermis) and enjoyed as many of the indie restos and boutiques as I possibly could. I found so many little treasures and left feeling well rested and totally inspired. Here are just a few of the gems from my trip...

Always my #1 in a new city: Secure a list of must see/do/eat from someone who looks cool. Trust me, it works. This list came from the baristas at The Coffee Fox. 

I'd never pass up a store called The Salt Table. I left with Lavender Salt and Habanero Sugar and more...much, much more.

Just one of the cheese boards we ordered. This one was from Churchill's Pub. They're a fixture on many Savannah menus. HOLLA!

A jumble of pearls at Peddler Jim's Antiques. It takes A LOT of digging to find a real treasure here.

Waiting for our fabulous tex-mex dinner at Foxy Loxy (sister store to The Coffee Fox). How could we not eat there? 

Took a late night jaunt to the sea. No way would we be that close to the ocean and not stick our toes in!

I always pick up as many local publications as possible.

A HELLA fast visit to the Wormsloe Plantation was beautiful and peaceful. So nice to walk around outside without a coat.

Shop SCAD proved to be chock full of treasures from local design students. I think Savannah's booming indie vibe is a direct result of having a great art school in its midst.

FOUND: the ugliest souvenir in Savannah. However, this certainly wasn't the most offensive. I won't be posting a picture of that one.

A bird's eye view of the basement at The Paris Market. This was my favorite store when I visited 7 years ago and it's still my favorite today. Lovely!

Cute, rustic decor at Back in the Day Bakery. We went for breakfast and ended up splitting a Jambon Royal and a cupcake. 

Cupcakes may be "over" but these babies from Back in the Day Bakery were DELICIOUS! Perhaps the best I've ever had (and I've tried my fair share).

I loved everything at Back in the Day Bakery. I just want to live there.

The mead tasting bar at Savannah Bee Company. We had our first (and definitely not our last) taste of honeycomb here, paired with crisp green apple and sharp cheese. Yum! The company makes all manner of honey products as well as a range of haircare and skincare and sells beautiful honeycomb inspired jewelry. 

The nice craft beer selection at The Beer Growler. Fun fact: You can stroll the streets of Savannah while drinking beer, as long as it's in a plastic container.

Makeup Artist Stacey Frasca's Winter 2015 Beauty Tips

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Stacey Frasca is an expert makeup artist with over 20 years in the business, a beautiful person inside and out with a sparkling personality and my friend. A few years ago, Stacey opened up her own beauty studio and created her namesake line of richly pigmented colors and luxurious formulas (see my previous profile of Stacey here) and has been an indie smash success in a vast sea of beauty brands. 

I asked Stacey to share her latest beauty tips to kick off 2015 in style! 

* Winter 2015 all about what I'm calling Pure Drama. I'm giving lips a vinyl-like finish with deep, plum toned lip glosses like Bad Bessie or Squeeze Toy. Another way to achieve this sexy lip look is with my Plumberry lipstick topped with my deep and dramatic Venom lip gloss.

Model Lauren Fitzgerald, Maggie Inc. Photo by Joel Benjamin

* Give eyes a high intensity metallic finish with my  Playboy or Beachy eye shadows as base colors with Shiver or Sugar used as a highlighter under the brows. This combo gives eyes an amazing, instant lift.

* Brows have been trending big for a few seasons. Give yours lots of natural definition by layering brow pencils and shadows for a full, realistic look. I've been using my Brow Pencil in Taupe and Eye Shadow in Oyster Bar with my Angle Brow Brush No. 15.

* Contour and highlighting is a must-do combo, especially for evening looks. You can define and slim every facial feature - perfect for all those selfies! My contour kit is available exclusively on Amazon Luxury Beauty and the palette comes with detailed instructions for nailing the look. It may take a bit of practice, but it's worth it!


Follow Stacey Frasca on Instagram @StaceyFrasca and like Professional Makeup Artist Stacey Frasca at Studio 28 on Facebook. Learn more about Stacey and Studio 28 Cosmetics, view her portfolio and videos as well as shop online at 

Holiday Gift Guide, Part 3 | For the Fine Fellas

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Whether yo man is a sports bro, a DIY dandy, a rocker, a fine fella or a man's man, I've got you covered with gifts $85 and under!

RIFD-blocking Steel Herringbone Wallet $75  | Whiskey and Rum Making Kit $75 | Beard Pack $40 
Baseball Game $48 | Ticket Stub Diary $12 | Stalk Tiebar $85

Miss the previous editions of this year's gift guides? Fear not: Part 1, For the Glamour Girls | Part 2, For the Kiddos

Pantone's Color of the Year

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In case you haven't heard, Pantone recently announced their highly anticipated (at least by a certain demographic) Color of the Year. I'm always excited to see their take on the current color trends, even if I'm not all that thrilled by their selections. Tangerine Tango was a big hit with me, while Emerald was not (I prefer the gem to the textile color). This year, Pantone deems Marsala as the IT hue.

I'm a bit iffy on Marsala, only because it seems a little dull to my eyes. It reminds me of my wardrobe in the 90's... I doubt I'd wear the color on my body anymore (never say never), but I can dig on Marsala for interiors and, perhaps, for lipstick or nail colors. Perhaps.

MAC Party Line $16 | Butter London Tramp Stamp $15

What's your take on Pantone's Color of the Year? Will you be buying into this color trend?

Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1 | For the Glamour Girl

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I love giving (and getting) presents. I shop year round for my family and friends and use an excel spreadsheet to track my gifting from year to year - it's quite handy to see what I've previously given. But I realize many people labor over holiday shopping. If you're one of those, I'll be serving up gift ideas for every recipient on your list each Monday morning from now through Christmas (for you last minute Scrooges). Oh, and everything's under $100. This week it's all about the glamorous girls in your life.


Nordstrom Foil Paint Accent Pillow $38 | Kate Spade Bow Beanie $98 | Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Palette $75 | Rebecca Minkoff Molly Metro Wallet $75 | Ugg Andi Slipper $90 | Keychain $14


Want to thank me? Send me something from this list. I want it all.

Blissful Beauty + Cyber Monday Deal

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Once upon a time, I dreamed of owning a spa when I grew up. I was (and still am) obsessed with the spa industry and the business of beauty. I became enthralled with a marvelous and enterprising woman named Marcia Kilgore and ripped out magazine articles about her famed Bliss spa, a modern and youthful, fun-loving spa, an alternative to the traditional (and perhaps sometimes stuffy) business model I was always reading about. When I finally got my hands on my first Bliss products some years later I was hooked.

Bliss' signature lemon + sage scent is divine (reminds me of my first post-college apartment in Boston) and their product packaging and cheeky presentation is cheerful and bright. The Bliss spas (now owned by Starwood) are known for playing upbeat music in bright, clean yet still serene environments. Their delicious complementary brownies aren't too shabby, either. I've loved every single minute I've ever spent inside a Bliss location. My only sadness is that it doesn't happen nearly enough.

Here's how I create a little Bliss for myself at home:

Fabulous Foaming Face Wash $24 | The Youth As We Know It Serum $70 | Triple Oxygen Eye Gel $50

For today only, shop Bliss and take advantage of their incredible Cyber Monday deal!

Click the link below and use code BLISSFRIDAY at checkout.

Cyber Monday Offer: 40% off Bliss Pro Sizes + 20% off Almost Everything Else + Free $150 Beauty Bag + 
4 Free Travel-Size Treats + Free Shipping


Black Friday Beauty

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You're either into Black Friday shopping or you aren't. I know not every participant gets punched while trying to scoop this year's must have item but I much prefer to the spend the day after Thanksgiving at home, decorating for the holidays and lounging with my family. That's not to say I don't do a little shopping of my own. I just happen to take advantage of the online version rather than the brick and mortar kind. I'm so thankful e-tailers cater to passive shoppers like me. 

I'm particularly excited about Tarte's Black Friday sale! Tarte is fabulously eco chic with effective and luxurious products that manage to do the trick without the harmful ingredients still used by many beauty brands. Take advantage of today's online sale and stock up on favorites or try something new. If you're looking for a great introduction to the brand, you can't go wrong with their legendary Cheek Stains or uber moisturizing LipSurgence lip crayons.

Best of the Balms

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Winter can wreak havoc on skin, leaving you with a dry, chapped mess, instead of the dewy, glowing visage you're used to. This is the part where I tell you that you need to incorporate a balm into your routine. Now, you have some options. You could go for a cleansing balm, which luxuriously melts off makeup and dirt, leaving you both cleansed and moisturized. Or, you could opt for a leave-on balm for extra protection against the oh-so drying winter air (indoors and out). I say, why not go for both? These are my tried and true faves. 

Apply the cleansing balm to dry or wet skin (I prefer dry) and massage in gentle, circular motions. Splash off with warm water and gently pat skin dry before continuing with regular routine. Use the moisturizing balm to seal in moisture as a last step at night or over makeup during the day. This product is particularly effective at helping to heal and conceal dry and flaky noses that have seen one too many tissues. The Darphin price tag is well worth it and the Boots price point is a crazy steal!

Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm with Rosewood $45 | Boots Botanics Organic Super Balm $9

My Sweet Nan Nan...

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My grandmother, who we've always called Nan Nan or Nan, passed away recently. The days since have been filled with plenty of tears but also cathartic laughter, recalling the little details that made her so special and some of the phrases that always made us grandchildren and great-grandchildren giggle. While reminiscing, I couldn't help but think of her signature style and how she shared her approach to beauty and fashion with me so many years ago...

Nan was extremely fastidious in every aspect in her life but perhaps even more so when it came to her cuticles. I'm not kidding. Her hands were always perfect, even up to her last days. While cleaning out her belongings, I found a plentiful supply of cuticle creams, emory boards, cuticle nippers and pushers, multiple bottles of clear polish (she rarely wore actual color) and her favorite hand cream by Aveda. My husband and I were talking about her extreme dedication to her cuticles and he proposed that perhaps it was something she learned while attending finishing school that really stuck with her. Something like, "A lady must always have clean and elegant hands." We'll never know. I just wished I'd asked her about it when I had the opportunity. 

Nan was dedicated to her multi-step skincare routine and natural makeup look and used the same products by Elizabeth Arden, only updating when certain colors or formulas were discontinued. Every once in a while, she'd branch out and visit the Clinique counter* with me and pick up a new product.

*She took me to my first Clinique skin diagnosis and set me on a path toward caring for my skin - if you know me at all, you know that took hold. By the way, her skin looked and felt fabulous right until the end. 

Nan Nan, presenting me with her garter, on my wedding day in June, 2006.

As she aged, Nan's hair became the most gorgeous metallic silver, with a small patch of soft brown hair at the nape of her neck, a holdout from her younger years and, in my mind, a testament to her youthful spirit. She wore her hair in a sleek 1920's pageboy style and it was never out of place, thanks to her once a week hair appointment. On the rare occasion she'd wash her own hair, she only used Paul Mitchell. 

Nan loved the scent of lavender but her signature scent was always Lily of the Valley, just as her mother before her. My mother, sister and I always have at least one bottle in our supply as it was a popular Christmas gift from her. In my mind, the words Lily of Valley and Nan Nan are synonyms.

In the early 1980's, Nan Nan had her "colors done" by Color Me Beautiful. My grandfather and mother thought it was a hilarious notion but she took it very seriously. Nan was a "Summer" and followed the rules (for the most part) for the rest of her life, eschewing bright red and deep black because she was told they'd wash her out. And they did. She truly looked best in pastel colors and wore fuchsia in place of red and navy or grey in place of black. Rose, light pink, periwinkle, lavender and mint were her best colors. And she always looked radiant in them.

When I was a pre-teen, visiting Nan in Miami, she took me to her Eckard drugstore for my first real foray into cosmetics. My mother had so far refused so I took advantage of my sweet grandmother's offer. My first products were clear mascara, a lash curler and small tube of clear Vaseline lip gloss. It was just enough to satisfy my craving yet wouldn't clash with my mother's wishes or my Catholic school's no makeup policy. 

When I moved away from home at the tender age of 12 (to train for competitive figure skating), I'd spent my entire school life in a red plaid Catholic school uniform and had no idea how to dress myself. Nan took me to GAP and we picked out some outfits. We chose five pairs of colored jeans, five turtlenecks and five v-neck varsity sweaters (oy). Nan liked the turtlenecks so much, she bought a multicolored striped one for herself and continued to wear it, even up to last winter. As I was cleaning out her closet, I found it. I just had to save it...

Nan Nan's delicate charm bracelet.

Nan Nan had many other signature pieces like her three strand pearl necklace and single pearl earrings, her half-millimeter gold wedding band that she hadn't removed since her wedding day in 1946, a thick, white plastic bracelet for casual looks, her white (and when she felt sassy, metallic gold) Daniel Green Dormie bedroom slippers (another gift she'd occasionally give to me and my sister). But nothing is as special to me as her gold charm bracelet, started when her first child, my mother, was born. By the time she passed away, her delicate bracelet held charms for her two children, three grandchildren and seven of her eight great-grandchildren. 


There's so much more to write but I just can't see past the tears...


Fall 2014 Beauty

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Now that it's officially Autumn (even though the current temps are warmer than the last few weeks of summer), I'm making the transition from barely there summer makeup to more dramatic, "done" looks. I stopped wearing red lipstick when my first son was born because I found myself kissing him so much. But, it's hard to say no to a good old fashioned red lip from time to time. My boys will just have to deal with kiss marks on their cheeks.

The Smoky Nudes Eye Palette from Bobbi Brown is the most perfect assortment of matte, sparkle and metallic shadows that make it a snap to create versatile smoky looks.

Josie Maran's Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee is hydrating, nourishing and leaves a sheer kiss of color, especially when blended with fingertips. 

I find it increasingly difficult to use non-tube forming mascaras. I adore blinc's Mascara Amplified and this season, I'll be wearing dark brown, rather than black, for more warmth.

Jouer's Matte Moisture Tint leaves skin looking velvety smooth with just the right amount of coverage for a natural looking, flawless finish.

It seems Charlotte Tilbury's name is everywhere these days, mostly because her coveted makeup range has recently (finally!) launched in the US. The K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Love Bite is nourishing and richly pigmented in a classic fire-engine red.