Everyday Makeup Favorites: My top 10 essentials

I will preface this post by saying that I do not consider myself a beauty expert. With that said, every girl who plays with makeup knows that trial and error is the secret to success and because of that, I'm always curious about other people's favorite products, tips, and tricks. For the most part I am also a very budget-conscious shopper, so hopefully I can turn a few more people on to my beauty favorites that also happen to be easy on the wallet.

I can say with confidence that if I were only allowed to keep 10 makeup products to use on a daily basis, these would be the final 10. If that isn't endorsement enough, please read on.

Everyday Favorites: Makeup

1 - Bare Minerals Ready SPF 20 Foundation - $29

I have been a Bare Minerals user for years now, but when I saw that they had come out with a solid compact version of the classic foundation, I had to try it. It's just as great as the original, which I love because it feels like I'm not wearing anything, but in a neater package that is even easier and faster to apply. Plus, it no longer makes a mess in my makeup bag.

2 - Skin79 VIP Gold Super BB Cream - $30

You may have already read about it in my post on BB Creams, but this super-moisturizing Korean BB cream has officially made it onto my favorites list. I like this as my winter alternative for foundation since I have fairly dry skin. It's better than the Bare Minerals when my skin needs moisture, but still provides good light coverage with a natural look.

3 - CoverGirl Lashblast Mascara - $8

I love this drugstore mascara and don't feel like I even want to try any others. It has great build-able volume, isn't too wet, and doesn't get that terrible crunchy feeling when it dries. Enough said.

4 - e.l.f. Mineral Eyeliner - $3

I used to be a fan of Clinique's eyeliner that is similar to this, but the e.l.f. version is just as good (IMO) at a fraction of the price. It goes on smooth as silk and comes in great basic colors. It's also made without chemical dyes or parabens, so it's great for sensitive skin and eyes.

5 - Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 - $32

I got the tinted version of this in a package from QVC and immediately fell in love with it. If I had unlimited funds I would most definitely own the entire Josie Maran line. This moisturizer goes on so smoothly and keeps my skin quenched all day. It's a great base for makeup and gives you all the sun protection you need.

6 - CoverGirl Lip Perfection in Spellbound - $7

I love a great bold lip color and this one is perfect for fair-skinned gals like myself. I think it would be flattering on most people, but is still a really unique slightly purple bright fuchsia color. The lipstick is highly pigmented and moisturizing as well.

7 - e.l.f. Studio Kabuki Face Brush - $6

After my original Bare Minerals kabuki brush bit the dust, I decided to take a chance on this much less expensive version by e.l.f. and I was not disappointed. I actually like this brush much better. It's incredibly soft and is dense enough to provide great coverage.

8 - Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain in Flame - $7

My go-to for an easy everyday bold lip is one of these drugstore lip stains. I am a fan of the CoverGirl version, but this one comes with lip balm on one end, which gives it a slight advantage. These are incredibly easy to apply, last for at least half the day, and wear off in a less-noticeable way than regular lipstick. This particular color is the perfect summery bright red-orange.

9 - Laura Geller Blush-n-Brighten in Honey Dipped - $31

This is a bit of splurge, but I got to try it in my Birchbox and I have to say that it is a must-try blush/bronzer for anyone with fair skin. It can be really difficult to find a bronzer that doesn't overwhelm or look silly on fair skin, but the golden tones in this one give a summer glow without looking like you are trying to be a tan person. It has multiple tones mixed together and blends incredibly well with just a slight glimmer.

10 - e.l.f. Studio Blush in Fuchsia Fusion - $3

I'm a huge fan of e.l.f. blushes, but this one comes out on top as my favorite. With fair skin, blush is definitely one of the most important items in my makeup arsenal. This one looks insanely bright, but it blends really easily and is probably the closest I've tried to a natural flushed color for fair skin tones. I often combine it with the Laura Geller bronzer for a faked glow.

If you have any makeup products that you cannot live without, I'd love to hear what they are!




Denim with a pop of yellow

Gap jeans and shirt, Forever 21 denim vest, Dolce Vita boots.

I'm a little behind on my outfit posts here, the last week or so has been kind of hectic in my neck of the woods. This outfit was from about a week ago when we were still having transitional spring-like weather, but now we're in a full-blown early summer it seems! I love having more sunshine around here, but I haven't been sleeping well thanks to the hot weather. I guess it just takes some getting used to for those of us more acclimated to cold and rain. BUT the weather has me excited for our beautiful summers here and all the fun adventures that go along with them! Also excited to finally be able to wear dresses and skirts. Hooray! More of that to come soon once I get on top of things again. :)

As for this outfit, I'm pretty obsessed with denim of all kinds and I thought that these two pieces were different enough that I could wear them together with a little pop of color in between. And I've just been wanting to throw this vest over everything lately that I think needs another layer. I generally like button-downs, but sometimes they make me feel a little too preppy or mom-ish, so I love that the bright color of this one makes it feel like a bolder choice, even though it's just as simple.

Cheers to Spring!


#nowplaying - "Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard" - Paul Simon


Pop of pink

Gap neon tee and jeans, American Apparel scarf, H&M blazer, Chinese Laundry wedges. 

In Portland, Spring always fakes us out a few times. We'll get a couple days of sunny and 60s beautiful weather, and then it will go back to cool and rainy for the rest of the month, just to torture us I assume. Since I can't very well wear skirts or dresses or short-sleeved shirts yet, I've noticed myself sticking to layers but switching my color palette up instead. Not warm enough to wear a t-shirt? Fine. I will just wear pink neon under my layers to let it be known that spring is coming. :)

I've never really been a pink person in general, but I find myself gravitating towards it more and more in clothing. I think maybe because it goes so well with black, white, and denim neutrals? The especially bright variety seems so fresh and fun to me, and is more flattering than most extra-bright colors.

Do you have a favorite way to style pink pieces or combine them with something?

I have been on Pinterest a lot lately and catching up in the blogosphere and I am loving all the trends! Good for this blog, but bad for my wallet. Neon, sporty, denim, black and white, palm prints, I'm loving it all. Anyone have a favorite spring trend right now?



Experimenting in Nail Art

One of my favorite little beauty rituals is doing my own nails. Thanks to a small beauty store near my campus that sold OPI colors at a good discount, I accumulated quite the collection while I was in college. It was a little beauty splurge for myself, and now I have a veritable rainbow to choose from when I kick back to watch what's on my DVR and paint my nails. Of course now I'm hooked on DIY gel manicures, too, but that's for another post.

For this post, I got to have some fun playing with nail art for work. Yes, for work. :) Over at Trapit we have an entire Nail Art Trap that is full of awesome inspiration. For our company blog I did a little tutorial on this fun v-shaped simple nail art. You can read that full post here, but here are the basic steps to recreate the look.

1. Cut 20 small strips of scotch tape and place them somewhere accessible, like on a magazine or the edge of your coffee table.
2. Prep your nails and paint on a base coat of clear polish. Wait until dry.
3. Using the strips of scotch tape, mark off your V shape on all ten nails. Make sure the tape is pressed firmly to the nail so that you get a sharp edge.
4. Paint two thin coats of your color into the marked off V shape.
5. Remove the tape while the color polish is still wet. Wait a few minutes.
6. Paint one or two coats of a clear top coat to seal in your design and give it some shine.

Happy nail painting!



Mint and Flowers

H&M cardigan and blouse, Gap boyfriend jeans, Jeffrey Campbell wedges. 

I'm really glad I found these slouchy boyfriend jeans because they seem like the perfect compliment to all my bright feminine colors and prints that I love for spring. I really like good contrast in an outfit, so pairing these tomboyish jeans with more feminine details is a fun way to accomplish that. Not too feminine, not too boyish, but something right in the middle.

I'm also glad that I am able to wear such casual things to work. I work in a very laid-back office of mostly male engineers, so even throwing on a pair of heels with a casual outfit makes me feel pretty dressed up for the workplace. And for Portland, for that matter. That being said, wedges with casual jeans are a perfect fit. I feel put-together but not out of place that way.

Do you have any styling tips for boyfriend jeans? Next on my list is pairing them with stripes and/or some skinny stilettos...


#nowplaying - Vampire Weekend - "Bryn"


BB creams: what I've learned

If you care at all about beauty and skincare, you've probably heard the buzzword "BB cream" lately or seen it popping up in the drugstore beauty aisle more and more. But what's the deal? In my own curiosity and desire to try the new trend, I've learned a bit about the "magical" BB creams that are out there and which ones might be the best choice for you.

We'll start with the hype. The idea of BB creams is that they function as a light makeup for everyday use, but also contain both sunscreen and powerful skincare ingredients that will improve the look of your natural skin over time. There are different versions for all kinds of skin types and benefits, from acne-clearing to anti-aging and oil-absorbing to moisturizing.

BB creams became extremely popular in asia, particularly Korea, and gained a good reputation for the makeup/skincare/sunscreen claims. Naturally, western brands started to pick up on the craze and have taken advantage of it by marketing many things as BB creams and trying to one-up each other with skin-perfecting claims.

BB cream face-offI tried the Garnier BB Cream (one of the first drugstore versions) last fall, but was pretty unimpressed with it. It felt heavy and greasy on my dry skin and definitely didn't make my skin any better. I thought I might give another brand a try, so I started doing some research on what might be the best inexpensive brand out there. Reading blogs and watching YouTube videos of those who had tried many of the western versions, the same conclusion kept popping up - don't waste your time, the Korean versions are  so much better.

Turns out that many of the western brands (especially the lower-end versions) are essentially re-packaging tinted moisturizers and marketing them as BB creams. There's nothing wrong with tinted moisturizers, but it's becoming more difficult to determine which versions actually have skincare incorporated. I ended up doing some more research on some Korean brands of BB cream and ordered one to try myself. Before I get to that, here are the pros and cons!

Korean BB Creams

Pros - powerful skincare ingredients, better coverage, may improve skin over time and lighten dark spots, not too expensive.

Cons - many brands only come in only one color, must purchase online, there are problems with fakes being sold on eBay and Amazon.

Western BB Creams

Pros - more easily accessible, wide price range, most brands offer at least several skin tones to choose from.

Cons - may not include many skincare ingredients, less coverage, better versions are expensive.

Based on this info, I decided to order the Skin79 VIP Gold Collection BB Cream (buy here), which is an extremely popular brand in Korea and is a formula made for drier skin. Skin79 also makes a bright pink bottle that is the most popular for normal/combination skin. All of the Skin79 products seemed to have rave reviews on YouTube so I figured it was worth a try. And at about $20 I wasn't going to break the bank either.

I've been using the Skin79 for about a week now, and I really like it so far. I have been a BareMinerals user for years, but sometimes it feels to drying on my already-dry skin, so I was looking for an alternative. This stuff definitely does the trick. It's moisturizing (no dry spots throughout the day) without feeling heavy on my skin, and gives enough coverage for everyday use. It doesn't really look like I'm wearing a layer of foundation at all; I would say it looks natural but like I just have slightly nicer skin than I actually do. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who likes a natural look and has skin on the drier side.

Have you guys tried any BB creams that you liked or didn't like?




Pink, blue, and leopard all over

Forever 21 studded chambray shirt, H&M pink jeans, Gap leopard flats

This was just a casual work outfit made up of some of my current favorite pieces. Chambray shirts have  become a favorite staple of mine for a bunch of reasons, but I liked that this one had some extra detail that makes it not quite as basic. And speaking of dressing up basic items - pink jeans! I love casual, comfortable clothes that still pack a bunch, and all of these pieces are classics with a fun twist. These leopard smoking slippers were a find from the Gap outlet and they have become my new favorite flats. I'm not a huge leopard person, but in a small dose like these flats, it goes with everything.

I've got pink and red covered, but now I'm  hankering for a pair of lavender jeans...

What's your favorite unconventional color for jeans?




Printed pants for spring

Old Navy blouse, Target pants and boots

Printed pants are a huge trend for spring, and since I've always been a lover of prints, I am completely onboard with this one! I was a little wary of wearing a big print like this on my lower half, but I found these on sale and they fit extremely well and are very comfortable/stretchy for skinny pants, which is always a huge plus. The petite version is still available online! Even if I find something that I love the idea of, if it's not comfortable, I know I won't end up wearing it. It's a good rule to shop by, unless it's an amazing pair of heels, in which case a small amount of pain is tolerable. ;)

I decided to keep the rest of the outfit pretty simple since the pants are pretty bold. I wanted to avoid mixing in too many trends at once. I threw my black leather moto jacket over this for work and was comfy all day in this spring-y Portland weather. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of these pants, even in the winter. I'll pair them now with a simple tank or tee and later with a chunky cool sweater.



#nowplaying ZZ Ward (new favorite!!!) - Blue Eyes Blind


My DIY Balayage Highlights - Results!

I posted about my hair inspiration a week or so ago so now I can update you on exactly how it turned out and what I learned during the process. Thankfully I'm really happy with the results! It took a good amount of research, some patience, and a few mistakes, but in the end I got the look that I wanted (natural-looking balayage highlights) for a total of about $25 instead of the hundreds it would have cost in a salon. I call that a success. If you're curious about attempting this yourself, here's a little bit more about how my experiment went and the tips I'd give to anyone else who wants to try it. Even if it seems a little daunting, I think that almost anyone could do this as long as you take it slow and take all the necessary precautions.

DIY Balayage Highlights

Do a little research - I had been thinking about trying an ombré look or something similar for a while, so I started by collecting images of looks that I liked over on my Beauty Pinterest board. Having images of the highlights that I liked helped me decided where to apply them on myself. Once I found out that the look I really wanted is called "balayage," I did a lot of research on YouTube, just watching how professionals do the highlights. This step made me a lot more confident when it came down to it. 

Have a friend help - I thought that I could do this myself, but it was a lot easier to have a couple friends on hand (we were also dyeing their hair) to make sure everything went smoothly. I showed them photos of what I wanted so that they could make sure what I was doing matched up with the look I was going for. It was also really helpful for doing the highlights on the back of my head. 

Do a strand test - This step is incredibly important, especially if you are using a lightening product like the L'oreal Ombré kit or a highlighting kit. It's a little less risky on blonde hair, but since my hair is dark brown, I wanted to make sure my hair did not lighten too much. I did a strand test in the middle of my hair (near the ear) for the recommended development time of 25 minutes and discovered that it was much too bright for the look that I wanted. After that, I knew not to leave it on for so long. Everyone's hair is different so I highly recommend doing this a day before you actually highlight. That way you can see the color in different lighting before you decide to do it all over. 

Work quickly - One of the downsides of using a lightening solution is that it will continue to develop (lighten) until you rinse it out. Since I was being careful to apply the highlights where and how I wanted, I really had to keep an eye on each highlight to know when to rinse it out. So it wouldn't get too light, I rinsed out the first highlights that I did a few minutes before the last ones. If you wait and rinse them all out at once, the ones you did first will be significantly lighter than the others. I'd also suggest highlighting the bottom half of your hair, then rinsing and drying before doing the top layer. You won't be as rushed that way and you can see what it looks like. 

Have fun! I'm really happy with how mine turned out. It looks significantly lighter overall than my old hair, but the look is still very natural and not harsh at all. It blends really well into my roots so I'm not worried at all about grow-out. It lightened my natural hair color so it looks reddish in some lights, but that's exactly how I wanted it to look so I'm a happy camper. This is definitely a great subtle change for anyone with hair like mine that was dark and pretty one-dimensional. The highlights give it some much-needed contrast and dimension and brighten it up a bit for the warmer months.

DIY Balayage Highlights - supplies

Step by Step

1. Work with dry, unwashed, product-free hair. Purchase a lightening kit like the L'oreal Wild Ombré Kit (I used 060 for medium to dark brown hair). Make sure to buy the kit designed your own hair color. 

2. If you want the balayage highlights look, also purchase a color mixing bowl and a highlight brush. Both are available at beauty supply stores and are very inexpensive. 

3. Decide where you want the highlights to be, how thick or thin you want them, and how close to the root they should go before mixing your bleach. 

4. Do a strand test! Do this the night before on a small strand of hair behind your ear and in the middle of your hair. Let the lightener develop according to the kit instructions, and determine how long to leave it in your hair based on that test. 

5. Mix your lightening kit in the mixing bowl with the plastic brush you bought. Once you have mixed it, start applying! *I made the mistake of leaving my bleach out for a long time while I was helping my friends with their hair, so by the time I got to my last highlights, the bleach had pretty much stopped working. I had to go buy another kit the next day and re-apply to those spots. 

6. Take a strand of hair and apply the bleach from the bottom up. Coat the bottom half of the strand thoroughly, and use a lighter hand where you want it to blend into your own hair. When you get to a few inches before the root, paint the bleach on the strand in a sharp V shape. This creates the natural, blended look and no grow-out line. 

7. Apply the highlights wherever you want them, and make sure to stagger how close the highlights come to the root. If you do one up to 2 inches before the root, the next one might be an inch from the root or 3 inches. This keeps the look natural. 

8. Keep an eye on your highlights and rinse out when needed! I just used my bathroom sink to rinse out my individual highlights once they were ready. Using a stopwatch on my iPhone helped me keep track of when to rinse them out. 

9. Condition, condition, condition! Any kind of bleaching kit will damage your hair, no question about it. I didn't think this kit was very damaging to my untreated hair, but it definitely felt a little more dry and coarse afterwords, so I've been using my Organix Macadamia Oil Intensive Moisture Mask in place of conditioner. I also really like using the Organix Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum on my ends if they are feeling a little dry. 

I hope this was helpful to some of you and inspired someone to go try this themselves! Let me know if anyone ends up giving it a whirl!




A cozy neon sweater

Gap sweater, Forever21 button-down and necklace, Mossimo ankle boots.

When the whole neon trend started taking hold I was pretty wary of it. The 80s and obnoxious west-coast frat-boys came to mind, and I didn't want to go to either of those places. But after a few dressing-room experiments, I discovered that I actually really love neon pink and that it is a pretty flattering color on me. I like a good pop of color, and neon pink seems fresh and goes with almost anything, believe it or not, especially my beloved chambray shirts. This particular piece is also a nice nod to Spring for days that still seem like the end of Winter. 

So apparently I'm a neon convert. And I'm ok with that. 

You can see that my hair is a bit lighter now! I'll have a more details post on that soon. :)



#nowplaying - "Can't Hold Us" - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis