I Went to Paris and All I Got was 1000 French Beauty Products

Bonjour!!...From a café 2 blocks from my house, where I am pretending to still be in Paris. Armed with a double espresso and a pastry probably meant for two, I’m taking an inventory of all the beauty products I picked up while I was abroad. I was in Paris for work, having very little time to myself. So when I showed up at City Pharma at 8:30am, laminated list in-hand, with only an hour to get it all done, I was ready to rage.

City Pharma is essentially God’s gift to earth- or at least to tourists. It’s a large pharmacy stocked with all the best brands, at a fraction of what we would pay in the U.S.  When I arrive up 10 minutes before open, hopped up on caffeine and carbs, there was already a line forming. What I found when the doors open could only be described as beautiful, organized chaos. Caudalie, La Roche Posay, Klorane, rows and rows of all French beauty staples that are nearly impossible to get here at home. I saw multiple people combing through their own lists, strategizing what we could get through TSA.

I quickly filled a basket to the brim, high off the thrill of inexpensive prices of my favorite beauty, or just way too buzzed from the double espresso. I also found many new favorites-in-training, thanks to the advice of a few experts I enlisted from my Instagram. City Pharma was pretty overwhelming, so I wanted to share my finds today to ensure you don’t find yourself crying in the Caudalie aisle. Unless it’s tears of joy- then we’re on the same page here.

 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

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A creamy, refreshing serum meant to help brighten skin and treat dark spots. I’ve found that Vitamin C serums have really helped with my acne scarring and overall skin-brightness. This one contains"viniferine", which is said to be even more effective than Vit C.  I apply in the morning after washing my face and it feels like what coffee feels like to my soul, but for my face. It’s the little luxuries, people!

*It is $79 here in the U.S....I paid the equivalent of $32 at City Pharma.

Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil

I bought this for the first time a few months ago, and have been using it religiously every night. After about a month, I noticed my skin was smoother, more even-toned, even a little redness around my nose had dulled. I wake up feeling dewy and plump, and possibly a little drowsy because I had to take a melatonin at 2am after spending all night thinking of how horses sit. ANYWAY- it’s the real deal, and about half the price in France. I stocked up.

*Paid $50 at Sephora originally, $27 at City Pharma. Caudalie is insanely less expensive in France, I highly recommend stocking up on this brand.

 

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate

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This was the #1 suggestion from my Instagram outreach. It’s essentially in the makeup bag of every makeup artist, as this cream is praised as the perfect primer & moisturizer. I can now attest that this is true. I have been applying right before my makeup, and it creates a smooth, supple base for product. I really enjoy using it on its own too, after I shower and am just lounging around the house. It’s extremely hydrating and light, and suddenly gives me the urge to turn on French coffeehouse music and light a cigarette. Don’t worry mom, I WON’T!

Bioderma Hydrabio H20

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Duh. I use as a makeup remover and it gets every last bit of it off, leaving my face smooth and fresh feeling. Incredibly inexpensive, wonderfully luxurious. Like my feelings, my skin is extremely sensitive, so I use the one with the blue lid.

Klorane Dry Shampoo

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This is something I had bought in the States previously, but when I saw the significantly-less price tag in the Pharmacie ($10 here vs. $3, I grabbed a few bottles. You can’t go wrong here, it’s a great dry shampoo.

 

Klorane Smoothing & Relaxing Eye Patches

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I live for an eye patch moment. Waking up and throwing a pair on my tired, puffy eyes is very much near the top of my favorite hobbies list. Eye patches can be really expensive, considering you typically use them once. These cooled my tired, jet lag eyes at a very nice price ($10 for 7 sets).

Nuxe Dry Body Oil

This seemed to be on display everywhere and a friend had asked me to pick her up a bottle. I got one for myself and now I wish I had filled an entire suitcase with it. A silky, smooth, luxurious dry body oil that comes in a PUMP! No more messy-hands, spilling it all over the place. It smells like a fancy vacation and makes skin supple and glowy. Use any remainder on your hands on the ends of your hair. 

Hexomedine

When I got home from Paris, I had this weird red little bump under my chin. I applied this with a q-tip and by morning, it had almost disappeared completely. Touted as a staple for the French, it is an antiseptic for acne. If I have a stubborn zit, I’ll just put a little bit on and then hydrate the area. It’s extremely drying, so only use once a day if necessary!

*This product will be behind the counter, you’ll have to ask a pharmacist for it! Thanks Google Translate app!!!

*P.P.S- I think it’s rude to ask French people if they speak English. You are in their home, after all! Try “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French” first and see how they respond.

Homeoplasmine

Your chapped lips need this, trust me. Insanely hydrating and healing. I can’t remember fully because I was drunk with power at the time, but this may have to be asked for from behind the counter as well. Perfect for chapped lips, itchy or irritated skin!

Avène Thermal Spring Water

An absolute staple, the perfect skin-refresher. I stocked up on travel sizes for my purse, car and desk. I sweat a lot, okay?

Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

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Another recommendation from a friend, this applies like sheer butter on your lips. I keep it on my nightstand and put on a few coats right before bed. This + my pimple pads bedtime look probably gives Mike nightmares. The price of beauty, baby!!

Le Petit Marseillais (Bar Soaps)

 I picked up a few of these as gifts. They’re inexpensive, and the scents are luscious and fresh.

Above all, the thing that Paris taught me is that beauty really lies within. JUST KIDDING! I carefully curated this list through research and recommendation, I did enough sweaty laps around the pharmacy to definitely categorize it as exercise. Now with my face coated in vitamin C, freshly sprayed with mineral water, I’ll be getting back to my never-ending carb-fest. VIVE LA FRANCE!

 

Mask On, Mask Off.

It was a wise, wise man who once said “Get a hobby!!!!!”- it was my husband, and I think he said it to me when I finished all re-runs of "The O.C." in one week. Little did he know, my hobby would become skincare & masking, and I could do it all while re-watching the Chrismukkah episode. Take that!

I’ve tried many masks, some good, some bad, some smelly, some making me look like a straight-up serial killer in the night. But I found myself coming back to the same five masks every time, keeping them on rotation for my skin-needs at that moment. I thought I would share with you all today my holy grail of face masks, which is not to be taken lightly! I’ve tried a ton, and somehow these five have survived the test of time, which is more than I can say for my violin hobby, my drawing hobby, and even my horseback riding hobby (didn’t end well, don’t want to talk about it).

 

1. Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask- $22

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This has been my ride-or-die mask for a few years now. I do it at least once a week, preferably before an event or on a lazy morning. I am addicted to how this mask makes my skin look. I call it “Botox in a bottle” (NOT IN A BOTTLE BUT I MAKE MY OWN RULES), because it tightens, firms up and moisturizes all in 20 minutes. It also just feels incredible on your face. When I fly long distances, I put it on mid-flight and let it soak in like moisturizer.

Hot Tip! Put it in the fridge for the ultimate masking-experience.

Sometimes my skin goes into a meltdown more epic than a 6th grader at Hollister trying to cop a pair of jeans from their mom (me, that 6th grader was me). It needs serious work, but I don’t have time for or can’t afford a professional facial. This Tata Harper mask gives me almost the same results. It’s like a refresh button for your face. It helps me to get rid of little bumps, calm acne, and get my skin glowing again. Expensive price tag, but you’ll spend just as much on a new candle! No? That’s just me? Got it.

 

3. Kiehl’s Rare Earth Cleansing Masque- $30

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This is it ladies and gentlemen- a mask so good- that it got my husband into the masking game. Refreshing, purifying and effective. 86% of my summers are spent in this mask, because after .2 second of being outside and getting sweaty, this mask makes me feel clean again. On occasion, I do get a small breakout after using, because it’s bringing things to the surface. But for the most part, it helps balance my skin and unclog my pores.

 

4. Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask- $7.50

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The first time I did a sheet mask, I hid behind a door and waited to scare Michael (here’s those serial killer vibes!!). He ended up working late so I sat behind that door for a long time, but on the upside my skin looked UNREAL after. This mask has become my post-travel ritual. It restores all moisture to your face, leaving it plump and glowy.

Another hot tip- save the packaging to use the leftover serum as night cream the next day!

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Sometimes I come home from work and have so much to do (or just need to take a nap, it’s usually the nap), there is simply no time to sit down with a 20-minute mask. This is just as powerful, in less than half the amount of time. The directions say to leave it on for 2 minutes, but I leave it on for about 5 minutes- rules are made to be broken, baby. This stuff is a miracle. I wake up in the morning with bright, even skin. I really can’t believe the difference it makes overnight, it feels like it breathes new life in to your face. Major pay off with minimal work- the ideal face mask and also my resume objective!

 

So here’s to starting off 2018 with your best face forward! Unless you go out and drink your weight in $6 bottles of champagne this weekend. You get a pass for a few days.

Cuts & Colors: A Hair-story.

 
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Long, long ago, in a bathroom in Wisconsin, a toxic relationship with my hair was born. As my mother cut my bangs (Bless you mom but, NO), I took notice of my Alfalfa-style cowlick, my thin locks, and their incredible ability to get greasy a few mere hours after washing. I’ve struggled with my hair for years, never finding quite the right cut or style. It wasn’t until I met my usual stylist, Anthony ( @ Antonino Salon, book your appointment now because he is so good it takes a few good weeks to get in!)  a few years back, that I finally felt comfortable and confident with my hair. I also stopped using children’s shampoo, so I guess that doesn’t hurt either.

Today I wanted to share who helped me make hair-story with my locks:

THE CUT: Ryan Cotton, Village Parlor Detroit

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I had been growing my hair out long for the wedding, and I actually liked my cut. Anthony never put layers in my hair, making it appear thicker and fuller. But I was feeling desperate for a change. I hadn’t cut my hair anywhere near short since middle school, when the stylist at JR’S Kutz for KidZ told me that “the boys will love short hair!!” (spoiler alert: NOPE!). I knew if I went to my beloved Anthony, I wouldn’t want him to do anything different, so for this cut, I had to venture out. My first and only call was to Village Parlor Detroit.

I’ve been following Village Parlor, and its founder, Ryan Cotton, on Instagram since they announced their Detroit location. I was enthralled with Ryan’s talent, the way he cut and styled hair, it always looked so cool and carefree. Now something to know about me- I’m pretty low-maintenance when it comes to my hair. And that’s not out laziness. I am so awful at doing my own hair, I feel I should have to have permit for my curling wand. I blow-dry my hair and go and that’s what works best for me. I expressed to Ryan that my hair needed to allow for this, but I still wanted something cool and chic. He told me I could definitely lose a few inches and add in some “invisible layers” in the front, giving my hair more movement and body. Sold.

Ryan took his time cutting my hair, he is a perfectionist, which is exactly what you want in a stylist. He even stopped for a moment to remove a spot from his mirror- I knew then that I was in the right hands. Everything about Village Parlor felt like a celebration of being in Detroit. Ryan is originally from the Lansing-area, but has been in New York for the past 16 years. He moved back to Detroit to open his own salon, and be a key part of the city’s comeback. He revives not just your locks, but is reviving the city as well. I left with shorter, bouncier, healthier feeling hair- and a new friend!

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THE COLOR: Kevin Styles, Luigi Bruni Salon

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I spoke about Kevin in my last wedding post-we hit it off right away when I daringly went to him to put about 2 pieces of balayage in my hair about 4 years ago. I had never had color in my hair before, except for a few bad box-jobs on my college living room floor. I kept going back to Kevin, a true master, going subtly darker, lighter, and a few of shades in-between. I never once left disappointed, but feeling beautiful, empowered, and quite at peace (Kevin is essentially my therapist as well). He hand paints on your color, making it look natural, and NEVER like a 2000 Kelly Clarkson.

So after I got my cut from Ryan, I knew I wanted some new color match my new cut. I went darker in college- and I still feel scarred by the smell of that $9.99 box dye. I found that darker hair washed me out and made me look like an extra in a “My Chemical Romance” video (which really isn’t a bad thing, Black Parade forever!!!!). So I decided I would test the waters by going blonde-ish. I say “-ish” because I think it is a common misconception that you can just walk into a salon and take your brunette locks to blonde in one hour, for less than $200. BABY STEPS! I showed Kevin my hair-spiration, and he was feeling the vibes. He went to work for over 2 hours, hand painting on every piece, while letting me air out all my drama and problems. We sipped tea while giving the tea (ask me what this means later, mom!). When all was said and done, I turned to the mirror to see natural looking, golden honey locks, intertwined with my natural color. I love how it turned out-I feel fresh and uplifted, at a time of year I usually want to hide under the covers with fuzzy socks and a heating blanket (will still do this, will just feel better doing it).

If you’re thinking about doing something new with your ‘do, here’s my advice: the great thing about hair is that it grows back, it’s changeable, and underneath it all, we all have the same egg-shaped bald ass heads. Your identity doesn’t lie in your hair or your skin or your makeup. It lies in who you are and how you treat people- but a bomb hair style/color doesn’t hurt.   So while I don’t know if blondes or brunettes (or redheads!) have more fun, I do know it is the girl who surrounds herself with good people who are passionate about her work, who is the happiest.

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Renee Rouleau Skincare: A Review

Nothing makes me happier than seeing humans on a leash-less walk with their dogs- how do they follow along so loyally? I can hardly walk down the sidewalk with Mike without straying to something shiny in a store window. Another great joy in my life is finding new, effective skincare lines. So when I stumbled upon Renee Rouleau Skincare via Instagram, my tail immediately starting wagging. Okay, wait, no- I’m getting these all mixed up.

It was a few months ago that a post-Renee-facial-selfie of Demi Lovato shook me to my core (I was also eating an entire box of Thin Mints so that might have contributed to core happenings). I was so curious about the Renee Rouleau skincare line, since it was born from the mind of a esthetician- Renee herself. I was generously given some product, and my skin will never be the same.

Before we dive into product specifics, let’s go over a couple things.

1)      You can go to ReneeRouleau.com and take your skin quiz. It’s more fun than a “what toast topping are you!!” quiz, and it will guide you to which products would be most beneficial for your specific skin type.

2)      All Renee Rouleau (Roo-Low) products are lightweight, with formulas using herbal plant extracts and essential oils.

3)      No parabens, bad alcohols, synthetics or synthetic fragrances

4)      They don’t test on animals! Bunnies everywhere rejoice.

5)      The product packaging is beyond chic- rose gold is basically a Millennial girl’s bread and butter.

 

AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser

I am (almost!) 26-years-old, and I am still dealing with these little white bumps all over my chin at all times. They weren’t quite white heads, but little bumps that sat beneath the skin, crushing my dreams of a concealer-less day. I tried creams, lotions and potions and they never seemed to disappear, even as my skin was generally improving. Within two weeks of using this face wash, the bumps are gone and have not returned. This wash is creamy and gentle, with a light exfoliation (made from plastic beads- so not harsh or harmful to environment), gentle enough for every day. It’s more soft and soothing than a fresh pint of Halo Top. It really deep cleans my pores and fights against acne and yes- my annoying bumps. Leaves your face cleaner than Martha Stewart’s counter tops and softer than what I imagine Usher’s abs to feel like. $31.50

Anti Cyst Treatment

LADIES- you know that feeling, once a month when it feels like your uterus is going to fall right out of you and walk away? As if that isn’t bad enough, with that blessed time of the month comes the cystic, throbbing bumps that no matter how much masking I do, they pop up to the party they weren’t even invited to (I will remind my children every day of all the suffering I did for them). It usually takes me 4-5 products, praying and a lot of waiting to make them go away. This anti-cyst treatment was God’s way of answering. I apply 2-3 times a day, and the cyst is gone in half the time. I saw my usual forehead attendant go down in half the size in just one day. It’s an easy to apply, clear serum that’s made with gentle, yet effective ingredients (Citric Acid, Methyl Gluceth 20 and Ethyl Lactate) to calm, reduce redness and prevent scarring. It’s like a cortisone shot in a pump- but less money and painless. When I really want to give that bump the boot quick, I apply the serum and top with M-61’s Power Spot Blemish Lotion. AND STAY OUT! $45.50 (and it will last you a LONG time.)

Skin Recovery Lotion

As we know by now, I have sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin with redness on my cheeks. I am the total package…. to a greedy dermatologist. I’ve found in the past, I tend to overdo it. In a desperate attempt to get my skin under control, I do mask after mask with oil after oil piled on top. I now know that does my harm than good, and I’ve been trying to simplify my routine to just a few products- which was why it was a relief to find that this lotion is also the total package- gentle on sensitive skin, calms acne and reduces redness. Some nights I need deep, deep hydration, and I’ve expressed my love for Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich for that. But at night, when I need my skin to essentially take a Xanax, this is my gal. It’s oil free, doesn’t clog my pores, hydrates, and leaves my skin calm and cozy- like me during an 8-hour marathon of “Say Yes to The Dress” on my couch. So now, even if I overdo it, it takes my skin back to base camp one, providing a perfectly calm complexion come morning. $41.50

 

BHA Clarifying Serum

Sadly- I couldn’t test this one out. It has a Mushroom ingredient in it- which I am allergic to! Basically my allergy ruins my skincare fun and my pizza but that’s just life. So this one, I’m giving away to one of YOU! This serum is designed to clear clogged pores, lift scarring, lessen oil production (I am seriously depressed right now DAMN U MUSHROOMS), and even out your skin tone. Over time, it is meant to help with your clarity and texture, minimizing your pores and blemishes. How do you win? STARTING 3/21: Head on over to my Instagram (@alexandramauro), like the photo that goes up tomorrow morning, tag a friend, your mom, meme-soulmate, WHOEVER!, and be sure to follow @reneerouleauskincare. I’ll be picking a winner this week! 

 

I may never have the pipes of Demi Lovato (it’s more like William Hung or Mariah Carey NYE edition), but now I can at least rival her flawless complexion. Skincare is important- not only because I want to look 30 when I’m 50, but because it helps me be more confident on the day-to-day. Renee Rouleau gets that- and helps me put my best face forward. Not in a Neutrogena commercial way-where a girl magically and excitedly splashes water on her face- but in an every day, maybe you spilled salad dressing on your silk shirt but hey my skin looks great-way. And for that- I am forever grateful.

 

* Thank you to Renee Rouleau for providing the products. These are my honest opinions and experiences after one month of use. 

 

The Winter Beauty Edit

Ahhh, the inevitable flakes of winter- and I'm not talking about the snow. As the weather gets colder, my skin gets flakier than a Pillsbury biscuit. I'm flakier than that girl you run into at Target from high school that says "we should get coffee sometime!!!". Get the ugly, gross picture? Good. Now we can proceed with what we're going to do about it. 

I'm a firm believer that some of your skincare and beauty need to change with the seasons. I've compiled a list of my favorite skincare and beauty products for winter to get you through these next few months (let's face it, Winter lasts until April).  So crank up your heat, ignore your unshaven legs as you pull on some big wool socks, and enjoy: The Winter Beauty Edit. 

 

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich -$35

You all know my obsession with Glossier's Priming Moisturizer. I use it every morning before my makeup for a perfect base every time. So when Glossier came out with a richer version, you know I pressed “order” on launch morning before my eyes were even open. This is my top-winter product. It healed my dry, flaking skin overnight. It’s unbelievably rich, creamy and luxurious feeling. The best part is, you can’t use too much. It melts into skin like butter, bringing life back to dry, dull, winter face. I also use on my neck because I am in constant fear of Tech Neck (it's a sickness). It feels like a $300 cream Kim Kardashian probably uses- but it's only $35 and you don't have to act like Kanye makes sense.

* Psst: you can get 20% off and free shipping through my rep page here: https://www.glossier.com/reps/alexmauro

 

Milk Cooling Water- $24

Again- getting hydration on your skin in the winter is hard, because we’re indoors, cooped up under blankets just trying to get through it. Milk Makeup Cooling Stick is an easy, fun way to not only reduce redness and perk up tired skin, but it adds an extra layer of hydration. I keep mine in the fridge, swipe all over my face-especially under eyes- in the morning after washing. Also a perfect gym bag companion for after a workout.

 

Laura Mercier Face Polish- $32

Back to the flakes. You know the ones, you scrub and you moisturize and they just appear again like a stage-5 clinger at a party- BUT THEY WEREN’T INVITED!  When my skin needs a reboot, I scrub with this and it does exactly what it says it will- polishes your skin. My winter-dream team is washing clean skin with this, then Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich. You will wake up with a whole new face (not in a bad Heidi Montag way. It an awesome, how am I this glowing? in the winter way).

 

Kiehl's Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Mask- $30

Sometimes, you need a good detox, from harmful harsh heat in your house, from layering on makeup, etc. This is my ultimate. It detoxes skin without stripping it, it just leaves a nice, smooth, matte finish. It makes me feel so CLEAN afterwards. But because winter is a fickle biotch and will ruin this moment for you, follow up with Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask. If you don’t’ have that in your arsenal already, skip this whole post and order that. Baby steps- and that is the first one.

 

Elta MD Suncreen- $20

Yes, you do need sunscreen in the winter. And fall. And all other times of the year. People always ask me what they can use to prevent wrinkles, and sunscreen is it. We don’t realize the damage those harsh office lights make, the sun when we’re in the car- etc. You can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid it or worry about it- or you can wear sunscreen daily. This one was recommended to me by multiple friends, and for good reason. It is unbelievably lightweight and silky. I put it on before my priming moisturizer, and you can’t even tell it’s there.  It blends in beautifully and protects all day. Get on it.

 

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye Cream- $37

The top question I am asked is “what can I use for under-eyes?".  In service to all of you, I’ve tried just about all of them. This one is the only cream I have ever noticed a difference with. I do feel it helped with my dark circles over time, but more than anything it just made my under-eye area look not so tired. It smoothed the skin, actually making it look younger and healthier. A little goes a long way too- I've had it about 4 months and haven't even made a dent in the tube. 

Mermaid Perfume Body Oil- $50

Some days, you walk outside and are immediately assaulted by ice-cold wind, sharp, sleet-y snow and frigid temperatures. You think to yourself “I need a damn vacation”, but you check your bank account and it says “Girl lol no you need a BUDGET”. So how do you get away without actually getting away? Treat yourself to something tropical. On those miserable winter days, I crank up the heat in my apartment, take a bath (this is the best bath companion), and follow up with Mermaid Perfume Body Oil. It smells like you just left the beach, Mai Tai still in hand. It soaks into skin in seconds and leaves you with a lingering vacation smell all day. Not to mention crazy soft-skin worth of putting your bathing suit on (you can walk around your house in one, I won’t judge). Bonus points if you get their candle- it will fill your whole home with beach bliss. 

Boy Brow in Clear- $16

In the winter, I’m all about a more natural look- like an Eskimo with natural beauty just oozing from my pores. But as we all know, sometimes it takes a little work to make natural look polished. This is why I love Boy Brow Clear. I am faithful to Boy Brow in brown, but I do have some little baby hairs in the front that don’t quite need color, but just a little lift. Voila, Clear Boy Brow. All the same gorgeous, effortless, just a little messy brow, without color if you don’t need it (bless you).

Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl- $20

I had been coveting a glossy eye for months, but couldn’t seem to figure it out without looking like I had some weird disease. Then I was recommended Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl, and it changed the game. PERFECTLY glossy without looking oily or sick. It gives you the ultimate cool-girl look, because let’s face it, you are cool and should look like it. My favorite shade is the nude. Glide it on eyelids and pat in and BAM! You’re an Olsen (without the chain smoking, bravo).

 

Winter is tough- but taking care of your skin doesn't have to be. All of these products can be easily integrated into your routine, without sending your face into panic mode- because it's stressful enough just trying to keep your socks up in your boot all season.

 

* Title photo via Into The Gloss

Detroit Rose

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Girlfriends or Sister.

(let's face it, you're going to want some too)

 

There's not much I enjoy more than beauty, skincare, candles, and Disney Channel Original Movies. When I stumbled upon Detroit Rose, and it checked three of those four boxes (the last one was out of their control)- I was instantly hooked. 

My love affair started with the candles. If I am home, I am burning a candle. I would have really thrived in the Pre-Edison days. I'm not ashamed to admit I've spent upwards of $70 on a single candle. I found Detroit Rose via Instagram, and one look at the gorgeous packaging, had me getting my credit card out faster than you could say "Shopaholics Anonymous". To my delight, these beautiful candles were only $24. AND they're made right here in Detroit? SOLD. 

But like any great candle, it needs a great scent. I can confidently say that Detroit Rose's scents are unparalleled. They fill the entire room and wrap you in comfort and peacefulness. They have somehow managed to take that perfect "Sunday morning, wrapped in a blanket, watching Harry Potter with absolutely nothing to do today" feeling, and give it life in a candle. There are so many delicious scents to choose from, but here's my favorites I have burning on repeat:

*I know it's hard to choose a candle without smelling it first. For this reason, I have associated each scent with a notable person, to make choosing easier. Or just more entertaining. 

Cinnamon & Chai:

It smells like wrapping your house in one giant, cozy blanket. A spicy but comforting scent of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. This is the candle that's going to get you through the winter.

Who would burn it: Rory Gilmore. Before the revival garbage. 

Bourbon Orange Spice:

This one is Michael's favorite. It's a rich, buttery scent, made with the zest of orange, clove and anise. It's like the candle equivalent of melted butter (the feeling, not the smell). Smooth, and so delicious.

Who would burn it: Brad Pitt. In the Jenn days.  

Fig Tree:

I light this one every morning in my "Diva Den" (this is what Michael calls the spare room we had to make into my "dressing room", because I have SO.MANY.CLOTHES.) while I'm getting ready. It's clean, simple and earthy. Instantly turns any room into an oasis.

Who would burn it: Charlotte York. While she rearranges her flowers and makes brunch plans with the girls. 

Bergamot: 

The best way to describe the scent of this candle is "bright" (no, not a candle pun). It has the most delicious citrus notes, sure to perk up any space. It's energizing and inspiring. I love to light one when I write or am getting work done around the house. Currently lit as I write this (the candle, not me. I am an old lady and boring AF).

Who would burn it: Ina Garten. I light this and fantasize that she's about to make me a Quiche. Then my timer goes off for my bagel bites. 

BONUS burner: Lin Manuel Miranda. Rumor is he had this going while writing "Hamilton". That rumor was started by me.

Neroli: 

With hints of sandalwood and musk, this is the candle to bring out your inner goddess. It's sensual, peaceful and intoxicating. Side effect is that you may never want to leave your house. It's that good. 

Who would burn it: Serena van der Woodsen. Also Blair approved (but NOT Jenny. Forget her.). 

Tobacco & Bay Leaf:

As I write this, Michael yells from the kitchen that THIS is his favorite now. It smells like we live in a Restoration Hardware catalog (aka, the DREAM). Herbal, with hints of musk and citrus, it makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside. Also makes me want a giant reclaimed-wood bookcase filled with Sylvia Plath's best works. 

Who would burn it: My idol, Emma Watson. HOW CAN ONE PERSON BE SO PERFECT.

There are multiple other scents as well: Lavender, Rosa, Moss, Mistletoe, Leather, just to name a few. Each candle is hand poured here in Detroit, made from all-natural, vegan soy wax and premium fragrance oils.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! 

Detroit Rose has launched a "Ritual Line". A line of skincare products, all natural, organic and filler free. 

Rose & Coconut Milk Bath Soak ($26):

Up there with naps, baths are the most underrated childhood pastime. There is nothing like taking a bath to make you feel like you have your life together. Funny thing is- I usually take one when it seems like my life is falling apart. It is the perfect way to unwind, clear your head and get back on track. And now I know there is no better companion to bath time than this bath soak. I didn't know I needed to bathe with real rose buds UNTIL I DID. This scent of this soak alone is enough to send you into a spa-like bliss. But the coconut milk, melting into your skin is absolute nirvana. Just a few spoonfuls in the tub leaves skin impossibly soft. 

Bergamot & Lavender Oil ($28):

After taking my soul-saving bath, I thought my skin couldn't get any softer from the coconut milk. Then came this body oil. I usually can't get down with lotions- I think they're a hassle and sticky and never seem to absorb or moisturize. This oil made my skin hydrated and glowy on impact. It's easy to apply and quickly melts into skin.  And the scent....it's what I imagine Blake Lively to smell like naturally (no wonder Ryan Reynolds loves her so much, also why do I think about Blake Lively so much?). It's just a hint of sweet citrus and lavender that provides you just enough light fragrance. 

Find it! 

Let's be honest- you're ordering some for yourself. You'll get the best selection on their site, and won't have to stress about shipping times. 

Need it by Christmas? 

Lark & Co.: Birmingham

City Bird: Detroit

El Dorado General Store: Detroit

Farmers Hand: Detroit

SMPLFD: Detroit

Knot and Bow: Brooklyn, NY

Asrai Garden: Chicago

Lillstreet: Chicago

A full lists of stockists, here

 

If it wasn't already obvious, I am now a faithful follower of Detroit Rose. The entire brand is dedicated to channeling your inner goddess (Yaaasss queen, I'm in here!!!), loving and appreciating yourself, and finding peace in the shit storm of life. Whether it's a candle, body oil, face mask (next on my list to try) or a bath soak- we all could use a little something to help us find balance in the day-to-day. That, and something very chic for your bathroom shelves. 

The Travel Series: Beauty Bag

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Ahhh, the sweet satisfaction of vacation. You requested the days-off at work, packed your bags, and are off to your destination...only to get there and realize you packed 6 dresses, no pants and some weird t-shirt you promised "you would wear sometime!!!". Sound familiar? The number one question I am asked is how to pack for a trip (second to my knowledge of obscure Celine Dion facts). I figured as I get ready for my own trip to Ireland, what better time to create a travel guide? 

In this travel series, I'll be going through three different categories of packing: your carry-on, beauty bag and suitcase. Packing is a lot of work, but trust me, it's much better to do the labor BEFORE your trip, so you don't get there and realize you have no pajamas and you have to sleep in a hotel towel. That's a one way ticket to Chafe City. 

Let's start with the basics, what beauty you need to spend less time getting ready, and more time relaxing. Because you didn't take your vacation days to spend it contouring your every crevice. 

IN-FLIGHT:

Yes, in-flight beauty is where it's at. Long gone are the days of watching some cancelled sitcom on your seat TV and waiting for the peanuts to pass by again. When you're on a plane, your skin gets severely dehydrated, leaving it in bad shape for the rest of your vacation. Your 2x4 seat is now your own personal spa....the kid kicking your seat is as good as a masseuse, right? 

1) Sephora Sleep Mask Pods

These were MADE for travel. Small enough to fit in your carry-on, and invisible on your face, these will hydrate, even, and brighten for the duration of your flight. My favorites are Lotus and Pearl. 

2) Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Apply a thin layer (will appear a little white, like lotion) all over, and blend into skin when done, like moisturizer. You'll depart the plane looking like first class, even when you spent 3 hours squished in a corner, debating buying that Tupac-faced bird feeder from SkyMall. 

3) Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask

THE MOST HYDRATING! It's basically like drinking a gallon of water, but for your face. However, it's also the most frightening. Might put you on the terror watch list, but at least your skin would look fresh on the posters. 

 

Alright, you've made it to your destination. Before you stuff your face with chicken tenders (the official food of vacations everywhere) and put your 100 pairs of underwear in the hotel drawer (we'll address this later in the series), let's freshen up. 

*TIP: When trying out a new product, always test it out before your trip. Re: Alex's rash-gate 2011 when I tried Proactiv for the first time while in Italy. Remember when Hermoinie did a Stinging Jinx on Harry in Deathly Hallows pt. 2? That was me. 

REFRESH:

Face mists are key. You can take them on the plane, as long as they're TSA approved- they're perfect for the post-flight bathroom/taxi/rental car refresh. THE WORLD IS YOUR SPA! 

1) Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist

My personal favorite, it's ultra-hydrating and refreshing. It also smells like fruit loops. Tou-CAN you say add to cart?! Please keep reading. 

2) Glossier Soothing Face Mist

If you love the smell of Rose, this is the one for you. It's not TSA friendly, but worth digging around in your suitcase for. This stuff really makes you feel like you've got your life together. Only people who have their life together use face mist, right ("Things I Tell Myself to Sleep at Night, a Memoir")?

 

CLEANSE: 

Even though you were straight-up dedicated to that in-flight beauty routine, it's still good to cleanse your skin from the recycled air. 

1) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths-Brightening

That one-glass-of-Merlot-glow in a wipe. Okay, maybe it's just the wine that makes me think I'm glowing? Well, these noticeably brighten your complexion in one swipe. I hardly EVER go without makeup, and one use of these and I was out in public as bare as a baby's bottom. Okay, enough bad innuendos. These are the bomb. 

2) Ole Henriksen Cleansing Cloths- Grease Relief

Traveling can make you stressed out, sweaty and gross (I really hope I'm not just revealing myself here). These are perfect for removing any oils and grease, leaving you with a matte, even complexion. Extra points because they come in a smaller, travel version! 

*STORAGE: I pack all these in Glossier pink pouches, as well as a hanging cosmetics bag from Target. An absolute necessity for hotel-bathroom organization. To protect against leaks, I unscrew the lid off the product, put a small layer of saran wrap over the opening and put the cap/lid back on. Only YOU can prevent beauty wastage. 

MAKEUP: 

You've unpacked, you're ready to take the town, or see your grandparents- vacation comes in many forms. When I'm away, I like to keep my beauty routine as quick and simple as possible. Here's the products that get it done:

1) Glossier Priming Moisturizer

I've talked about it once and I'll talk about it 1000 MORE TIMES UNTIL EVERYONE HAS IT. You deserve the perfect moisturizer, and this is it. Holy grail because it looks just as good alone and as a base for makeup. Essential to my makeup routine. 

 

2) Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Fool proof- which is great for a fool like me. Makes skin so lush and so even- no kabukikiki/tapered unicorn hair brushes needed. Apply with fingers for the easiest, most naturally beautiful coverage you've ever had. 

3) Boy Brow

The appreciation for this never product never ends. Changing brows one quick-stroke at a time- no matter if you're Lily Collins brow-blessed or Gwen Stefani in the "No Doubt" days. 

4) Haloscope in Topaz

Swipe this on cheekbones for that coveted sun-kissed glow that usually takes 3 highlighters and a vat of bronzer. Also doubles as a subtle, yet beautiful eyeshadow. 

5) Generation G in Jam

Dual purpose, ideal for travel: great flushed color for lips, dab a little on apples of cheeks for a gorgeous, natural blush.

*HI! I've still got your back-here's that 20% off your Glossier order.  

6) Covergirl Perfect Blend Eye Pencil in Black and Last Blast Volume Mascara

I've been using these since high school for good reason. The eyeliner is creamier than any expensive brand I've used, glides on eyelids like a dream. The mascara is a drug-store staple. No clumps, no lumps, just natural looking lashes. YOU ARE A VACATION GODDESS! Easy and natural is the name of your makeup game. 

This whole routine takes under 15 minutes- less time on beauty, more time on margaritas- or hiking/being active. To each their own. 

HAIRCARE:

Hair routines can be tricky when you travel. Bad hotel hairdryers, humidity, weather changes- it's the perfect storm of a bad hair day. Fool-proof your routine by keeping it simple. 

1) OUAI Hair Oil

Another beauty brand that lives up to the hype- OUAI has created the perfect products for easy, beautiful hair. I rub 1-2 pumps of the oil in my hands and distribute throughout damp hair. Let air dry for the perfectly un-done, Olsen sisters hair (circa 2004, post-"Full House" but pre- "New York Minute"). 

2) OUAI Wave Spray

This is my holy grail of hair products. I used to blow-dry my hair every day. Since finding the wave spray, I'm at peak laziness and have gotten down to about once a week. I spray on wet to damp hair, scruch, and air dry. Again- perfect Olsen beach waves (this time, circa 2002- prime of the "So Little Time" era). BONUS: comes in a TSA-approved travel size!

 

 

Now that your skin is in tip-top shape, you can enjoy your vacation looking and feeling your best. In the next part of the series, we'll dissect the ideal carry-on. Sneak Peek: blanket scarves and hoarding those shortbread cookies from Delta. Who said traveling can't be fun?

 

Glossier: A Product-by-Product Review.

Since 10th grade, I have wanted to master the whole "no-makeup-makeup" thing. This was after a long period of blue eyeshadow, concealer two shades too dark and enough eyeliner for a Christina Aguilera video. But having the natural, dewy, glowy look requires two things: 1) good skin, and 2) good product. I'm still working on the better skin thing, but I have found the second necessity, the holy grail of skincare and makeup: Glossier. 

I am always initally skeptical of new beauty brands. Throughout our lives, we are constantly trying out new products, figuring out what works and what doesn't, rarely finding the latter. So when I found Glossier, I was skeptical, but drawn in by their girl power branding, bomb azz packaging (every order comes with stickers and an ultra-chic pink pouch) and the promise of a beautiful, healthy and natural look. I gradually tried product after product, each a bigger success than the last. Based off my experiences, I've compiled a go-to guide* for all things Glossier:

*This post is not an ad, I've got no skin in the game here (excuse the pun). Just want to share/shout from the rooftops how much this brand and these products have changed my life, and these are all honest reviews.

Priming Moisturizer

This was my Glossier initation, and it's still my absolute favorite, my skin can no longer live without it. It IMMEDIATLEY gives you a dewy, glowy finish that's great on it's own, or the perfect base for makeup. When I apply makeup without it, I can see and feel the difference. It's just not as "smooth", not as even. This moisturizer has actually made it possible for me to go out without foundation, because it's so build-able. If I'm really feeling myself, I'll mix it with a bit of highlighter and be dewy AF (Now more J.LO, less Xtina). 

Haloscope

Ever wonder how models and celebs look so glowy, like angels with lots of money and good stylists? Now I'm giving them a run for their money- at least in the glowy angel department. I have tried over 1000000 highlighters (exact estimate), finding most to be too glittery, too shiny, irritating, etc. Haloscope is the answer to our prayers. The application is absolutely foolproof, and the dewiness you achieve is UNREAL. Quartz is perfection for a straight up dewy goodness, while Topaz has been my go-to for that coveted sun-kissed glow. No glitter, all glow, all good. 

                                                           Quartz on top, Topaz below. 

                                                         Quartz on top, Topaz below. 

Moisturizing Moon Mask

One word: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSS. When I say this is life and skin changing, I mean it. Nothing ever, EVER has made my skin look so bright, tight (someone even asked me if I had botox once. Nah girl!!! Glossier!!), and healthy. I do this mask in the morning before work about 3 times a week, after a rough day, it's even cured hangovers (along with a #6 at Jimmy Johns and my Harry Potter DVD collection). This mask is the defintion of treat yo' self, it's the skincare equivilant of an espresso. If you buy nothing else, you need this- I promise.

                                         Moon Mask/Mega Greens Mask pictured at top

                                       Moon Mask/Mega Greens Mask pictured at top

Boy Brow

I've talked about this before, and the point is I don't care if you have no brows or the bushiest on the block, your brows are not living their best life until they have this. When I thank God for all my blessings at night, this is near the top. I have girlfriends with little-to-no brow material to work with, and every single one has texted me with countless emojis, usually that Salsa dancing girl followed by multiple tears of joy smileys. Take that and put it in a tube, and you have Boy Brow. 

Balm Dotcom

A universal skin salve, this is a staple to any beauty bag, purse, desk, or medicine cabinet. You can use it as a chapstick, hand cream, for dry skin, taming flyways, etc. The original is key, but my heart lies with Coconut and Cherry. The coconut balm is an unparalleled scent. I've been caught at work dabbing a bit inside my nose when I am piled under paperwork, dreaming of a vacation. Cherry is ESSENTIAL to that whole "model off duty look". Not only does it taste like a popsicle, but it gives yo lips the most perfect pouty-red stain. Maybe it's Ice Pops, maybe it's Glossier. I like to keep them guessing. 

Stretch Concealer

I don't care if I sleep 12 hours (what are Sundays for???) or two, I always have under-eye circles as dark as Voldemort's soul. Most concealers just lay on top and look like they're there, you know? I typically use this one from Nars, but stretch is perfect when I don't need so much coverage, but still want to be covered. That will only make sense when you try it- It's creamy, dewy, and never cakey. A natural finish that actually covers? Sign a sister up. 

Generation G Lip Colors

I typically don't wear lipstick, mostly because I'm sloppy and am always touching my face. I wore red lipstick on an interview once and walked out looking like the Joker after nervously touching my face the whole time. So as a result, when I wanted color, I started to apply a little lipstick to the middle of my lips, then blotting outwards. Gen G looks like that technique, without all the work. I've tried each color, but my must-haves are Cake, and Jam. Cake for enhancing natural color, Jam for that ideal "blended lipstick" look. Lately, I dab some Jam on my fingers and apply to cheeks. Jam over Haloscope? Trust me- it's the makeup of your dreams. 

                                                                      Gen-G shown left.

                                                                    Gen-G shown left.

Milky Jelly Cleanser

I used Milky Jelly for about two weeks before I had an allergic reaction to it- I'm allergic to mushrooms and there's some ingredient in there that has traces of it. But I will say, I loved the texture of the soap and the way it left my face- matte but not tight. So now basically mushrooms have not only ruined my pizza, but also my face wash dreams. 

Mega Greens Galaxy Pack

Do you ever do a juice cleanse, and you are feeling so pure and Fleek as a mother? Do you have any idea what I just said? Me either. But the point is, you feel GOOD after a little cleanse. That's what this mask is, but for your face. I do it when I'm feeling grimey and feel like my skin needs a fresh start. It does bring everything to the surface, but follow it with the moon mask and you've got the dream team of skin love. 

Pink Pouches

Every order comes in a Glossier signature Pink Pouch. I use them in my tote bag, purse, packing for vacation, even as a clutch when I go out. I have quite a few just from my orders, but they can be ordered in a 3-pack too if you can't wait. 

                                                                                             Pink Pouch in action

                                                                                           Pink Pouch in action

Here's the thing: we buy product after product hoping to achieve something- brighter skin, a more even complexion, makeup that's flawless. All these things have one thing in common- they make us feel better about ourselves. And that's not shallow- that's human nature. I can honestly say that since finding Glossier, I have never felt more naturally beautiful, or more comfortable in my own skin, and I truly believe everyone deserves to feel that way.

...Because I think so, here's 20% off to try it out-just follow this link to their site. And if you have any questions before you buy, email me! I've tried it all-I've got your back. 

I'll admit: I've spend nights looking in the mirror crying over my imperfect skin, not wanting to go out because of bad makeup and an even worse complexion. Glossier has created the simpliest makeup routine I have ever had, and I actually get excited to do it every day. My favorite part about this brand is that it's not exclusive to those with good skin ALREADY. Instead, their products start with improving your skin, and work up. 

These are more than just beauty products, they're a force of beauty, a representation of badass girls everywhere getting sh!% done, and I am proud to be a part of that gang. Try even one thing, and change the way you see beauty, and the way you see yourself, too. 

 

Friday Finds

 

I love a good find, but what I love even more is sharing it with everyone I know. When I find something new, I want to tell my girlfriends, my mother, my sister, even my mailwoman (she complimented me on a vintage Prada sweater once. I SEE YOU RHONDA). 

With Spring finally on the horizon, it was time for a product reboot. Check out my best finds below! 

 

1) Stella McCartney Pop! 

When the seasons change, I love to switch up my scent. In reality, I'll create any logic to make a trip to the beauty counter. BEING BEAUTIFUL AND SMELLING GOOD IS HARD WORK. I am typically drawn to floral and vanilla undertones, but don't like smelling like a funeral home threw up on me (IMO, funerals should be filled with pugs and bottles of Veuve instead). Stella McCartney's newest fragrance, Pop, is perfectly feminine, but not too sweet or fruity. With a delicious mixture of tuberose and sandalwood, this scent screams Spring. 

 

2) NARS Velvet Matte Tinted Moisturizer 

I am horrible at doing makeup. If I ever do a makeup tutorial, just shut down this site. That being said, I am always looking for shortcuts to look ~*FlAwLeSs*~. I was looking to take a break from my beloved mineral powder (it's not you, it's my skin of a pubescent teen), when I stumbled upon this miracle product. NARS has taken tinted moisturizer, and given it velvety smooth, matte coverage. A monkey could apply this beautifully, and trust me, I'm not far off. In just a few seconds, you have light, yet substantial coverage that stays matte, never shiny.  I know, every makeup brand claims to create "that glow!!". I've tried them all- this is the real deal

Tip from the counter: use your ring finger to blend!

 

3) NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer 

I have used the same concealer for YEARS, but lately I have been craving something with a little more natural coverage. Once I had the matte tinted moisturizer, my new beauty BFF* at the Nordstrom Nars counter suggested I stay in the family . After using this, I can only assume 50 Cent's "Magic Stick" is about this concealer. Impossibly creamy and natural, it goes on like a dream and instead of hiding your skin, highlights it beautifully while covering up everything from dark circles to acne scars. 

* I assume we are BFFs because we traded favorite moments from the Celine Dion LIVE! In Vegas DVD. 

 

4) Mario Badescu Silver Powder 

When I was 14, everyone said that acne and blackheads were just part of puberty. I am 99.9% sure I'm past that stage, yet I still have them. Hello, God? It's me, BLACKHEADS. However, I may have found the holy grail of busting these bad boys. I knew it was good when my sister, who doesn't even know what an eyelash curler is, texted me saying I needed to run out and get this ASAP. I applied the powder with a damp cotton ball, left it on for 10 minutes and then removed with my toner. The results were truly UNREAL. Blackheads completely out of sight. Use it once a week and say Sayonara to those suckers.

FIND IT: I surprisingly found Silver Powder at Urban Outfitters, hidden behind the flower crowns and overalls I had in second grade. 

 

5) Graphique Note Cards

When a trip to Marshall's for dish cloths turned into an all-out bender, I found myself in my favorite aisle- stationary. Another notepad to write my lists in? OBVIOUSLY. A journal with an inspirational quote on it? I feel like a better person already!! One thing, however, that has always proved to be a useful purchase, is thank you's and notecards. Thank you notes are the most underrated pastime. There is nothing classier or more chic than throwing a note in the mail to express your gratitude for a gift, a favor, or even just dropping in to say hello. I love to have personalized ones on deck, but stores like Marshall's always have the best inexpensive options when you need to send a quick note. Also it is probably worth noting that last year, I stockpiled Harry Potter stamps and now need an excuse to use them. 

 

Have you tried any of these products, or have any new favorites of your own? Please share below, because I haven't been to the mall in exactly 78 hours and I'm developing a twitch. If not, just leave the number of a good therapist.  

Boy Brow: The Review

Have you ever noticed in shampoo commercials, how the girl whose life has been "changed" by said shampoo, ALREADY has great hair? Or in makeup ads, the model coincidentally already has perfect skin? Or even in cruise ship commercials. It's always a slender, good looking family. Never who you really see, which is usually some kid eating his boogers, hogging the ice cream machine while mom is checking-in on Facebook (LUV THE SUN!!-Karen). 

My point is, we have constantly been mislead by marketing messages for "miracle products", so as consumers, we are understandably jaded. That's why I was skeptical when Glossier's Boy Brow was first launched. Of course it was a great product, but probably only for girls who already have great brows, right? 

I've been an avid follower of Into The Gloss and Glossier products for a while now. Having been burned by multiple pencils, waxes and tints, I didn't jump on the bandwagon right away. My wounds were still fresh. Dark pencil still lingered under my fingernails for God's sake. 

After a few weeks of soul/brow searching, I finally caved and ordered a tube. I knew when it hit my mailbox because I could hear the faint sound of angels singing outside my front door. They knew the miracle, the resurrection, that was about to take place. 

From the first swipe, I could tell Boy Brow was the real deal. The gel-like formula  somehow picked up every little brow hair to form a fuller, more natural shape- even on my scarce brows. Not sticky, stiff, or harsh, just perfectly messy and effortless. I knew I had been saved. 

Unlike pencils, it's almost impossible to mess up the application of Boy Brow. The tapered brush is a dream for precision. A few small, short, upward strokes and E! might even give you your own TV show (I'm assuming that's the way the Kardashians got one. Great brows=good* TV). 

 

THE GOOD NEWS: This is the holy grail of brow product, and since Glossier gave me the gift of getting my brows back, I'm giving you a gift! Use this link for 20% off your first order. 

THE BAD NEWS: If your shade is brown, like mine, or black, IT'S SOLD OUT RIGHT NOW. You'll have to sign up for an alert for when it's back in stock, which is said to be next month. Blondies, go fourth.  

 

So here we are: My brow history has been told. Pictures that can't be unseen, have been shared. And in the end, Boy Brow is the equivalent of the White Horse, and I am riding off into the sunset with my bad @$$ brows. 

*good is an over-statement and completely subjective. 

Xx