Penny Pincher Fashion Fashion, Beauty and Style Sun, 12 Sep 2021 13:29:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Penny Pincher Fashion 32 32 Sephora Spring Sale Thu, 15 Apr 2021 08:00:02 +0000

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Sephora’s Spring Savings Event is happening now and today it’s open to all Beauty Insider levels (if you’re not already a part of the program, you can sign up for free here).  Rogue members get 20% off, VIB’s get 15% off & Insiders get 10% off from thru 4/19 with code OMGSPRING + you’ll get free shipping on all orders with code FREESHIP!

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Anytime I can get something that I use regularly for less, I jump at the chance (even if it means buying products in advance/stocking up).  They have so many product offerings on their site that it can feel a little overwhelming when ordering during an event like this.  So, to simplify things, I’m only sharing the things that I use every day and love – these all have my seal of approval!  Sadly, The Ordinary products are excluded from the promo, but if you’ve been wanting to try them out, you can order & get them shipped for free – my favorites here & here.


Sephora Spring Sale Makeup Picks

Supergoop GlowScreen SPF40
This is my holy grail sunscreen & I honestly can’t imagine ever using anything else.  On days I’m not doing my makeup, I layer this over my moisturizer and it gives light coverage + a dewy glow, all while protecting my skin from the sun.

It Cosmetics Oil-Free Primer
Hands down the best primer, especially for the warm weather months!  It has a special “gripping” technology so it really adheres to your makeup so it won’t budge, even in the heat.  I tend to get a little shiny through my T-zone throughout the day and this really helps combat that too.

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
Another holy grail product I will never be without!  I layer this under my CC cream or I’ll wear it over my sunscreen on no-makeup days for a little added coverage.  I use the shade Light/Medium.

It Cosmetics CC+ Cream
I love that this has SPF50 built into it, so I don’t have to layer sunscreen underneath.  I wear the shade Medium in the summer months & Light/Medium in the winter.  I’d call this a medium to full coverage foundation with a luminous (not matte) finish.

It Cosmetics Waterproof Under Eye Concealer
I’ve gone back and forth with my concealer in the last couple of years, but I keep coming back to this one.  I think this has less of a tendency to crease (verses the Tarte Shape Tape) – as long as you apply it right and blend well.  A little goes a long way so I actually just buy the mini size because it lasts so long for me.  I wear Light Natural (full size version here).

Hourglass Translucent Setting Powder
This comes in a mini size so you can try it out before buying the larger version.  But, trust me – it’s the best setting powder I’ve tried (this one is a close runner-up though).  It is such a soft, fine powder that melts into your skin without looking cakey.

Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder
I only use this to set my undereye concealer and since a little goes a long way, this is one of those products that will last me for well over a year.  I wear the Fair/Medium.

Westman Atelier Highlighter Stick
This is a new-to-me clean beauty brand that I decided to try after hearing rave reviews from other bloggers & influencers.  I was pleasantly surprised by this product – I think it’s the most natural-looking highlighter I’ve ever used.  I ordered in Nectar and instantly fell in love with the easy application (I barely even needed to blend with my fingertips!) and the subtle lit-from-within look it gave me…and it lasted all day!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
The only brow pencil I will use – the super fine tip creates hair-like strokes that look natural and help fill in any sparse areas. I use a mix of both Taupe and Soft Brown.

Hourglass Ambient Bronzer
I bought the mini size of this in Luminous Bronze Light during last year’s sale and I still haven’t used it all.  This blends so well & gives you such a pretty natural warm glow without being overly sparkly.

NARS Blush
A cult classic & one of my go-to products for years.  Deepthroat & Sin are my favorite shades, but Orgasm is well-known for being universally flattering on all skin tones.  If you’re like me & don’t use a lot of blush, save yourself some money & just buy the mini version!


Sephora Spring Sale Hair Picks

Living Proof Dry Shampoo
My ride-or-die favorite – I always order multiple bottles of this whenever it’s on sale because I use it SO often!  It doesn’t create build-up and actually makes hair softer, while absorbing oils.  I like to spray it at the roots before bed and also before I workout as an extra preventative measure.

Living Proof Heat Styling Spray
When I blow-dry and curl my hair, I always spray this on liberally beforehand.  It protects up to 450 degrees (though, for the record, you should try to keep your tools around the 300 range for the health of your hair).  I like that it comes out in a fine mist so it’s a lot easier to get good coverage than a pump spray bottle.

DevaCurl Coconut Curl SuperCream
In an effort to minimize heat damage, I’ve been letting my hair air dry and wearing it curly as much as possible.  This cream is the best for giving my curls definition without making them crunchy + the tropical smell is heavenly.  This also comes in a mini size so you can try it out first.

Olaplex Bonding Oil
My hairstylist recommended this and I’ve been using it since January to help keep moisture in my hair.  A little goes a long way, so I only need a few drops – then I rub my palms together & apply via the “praying hands” method, focusing on mid-shaft to ends.  I use this on wet hair right out of the shower and again on my day 2 dry hair.

Olaplex Intense Moisture Mask
I personally think some of the Olaplex products are a little over-hyped, but if you’re only going to order one, this is it!  I try to do a deep conditioning hair mask once a week and this is truly transformative.  Even my mom who has fine, thin hair loved it, so I think it will work well for all hair types.  Also love that it comes with a pump dispenser – so much easier to apply!


Sephora Spring Sale Skincare Picks

Farmacy Brightening & Hydrating Sheet Masks
I love having these in my beauty cabinet for when my skin needs an extra little boost.  I typically do these on Sunday mornings when I have time to let it sit for 20 minutes and really sink in.  I’ve tried lots of different sheet masks over the years and these are still my favorites.

Farmacy Hyaluronic Acid Serum
I talked about this in my WILN post last week (here) – it really does what it says and not only hydrates, but gives skin a plump look without making you overly greasy.  It also layers beautifully under moisturizer and sunscreen without pilling.

St. Tropez Bronzing Water Face Mist
This is the easiest self-tanner you’ll ever use!  Just spritz on your face (no rubbing in needed) and you’ll get an evenly distributed mist that develops into a warm glowing tan in a few hours.  One word of caution if you are a bright blonde: make sure your hair is pulled away from your face and/or put up in a ponytail before using, as it can absorb into hair & color light strands.

Kate Somerville Exfoliating Treatment
Truth be told, this microdermabrasion scrub is my top pick, but since it’s a little bit pricier, I like to have this one as a back up.  It’s a glycolic and lactic acid base so it’s great for exfoliating and minimizing pores.  This is well-known as being “Hollywood’s 2-minute facial” because so many celebrities swear by it before events/award shows.

GrandeLash Lash Growth Serum
My favorite lash serum that actually produces results!  This doesn’t irritate my sensitive eyes and it’s easy to put on before bed each night (I keep mine on the nightstand so I don’t forget!).  I’ve linked to the mini version, which will last you approximately 6 weeks or you can get the full size version here.

Farmacy Brightening Eye Cream
I’ve been using this eye cream for over a year and it’s the only one I’ve found that has actually helped my dark circles.  It’s a blend of Vitamin C & Acerola Cherry that’s equal parts moisturizing and brightening.  I use it both morning & night.

Peace Out Microneedling Brightening Dots
I almost wish I hadn’t discovered these because now I’m hooked and will forever be repurchasing.  These are similar to those blemish patches that you can put over breakouts – except these actually fade stubborn dark spots!  You have to be consistent with them to really see a difference, but I was blown away by how well they work.  These patches have little microneedle spikes on them so the product can really penetrate beneath the skin.  Now that I’ve used these, I’m anxious to try their anti-wrinkle retinol patches to see if they’re just as good.


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What I’m Loving Now Thu, 18 Feb 2021 09:00:36 +0000

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Since outfit posts aren’t happening right now (due to the severe winter weather & our lack of power), I decided to bring back this popular series from 2019!  This is an easy way for me to share a mix of things that I’m using, craving and loving at the moment.  This month’s round-up includes some beauty products I’ve been impressed with, a popular spring color that’s popping up everywhere, the jewelry I can’t get enough of + a healthy approach to food and body image.  Read on to discover my favorites…


I know I’ve already shared about my affinity for soft pastels, but for some reason, this particular shade of green is really speaking to me lately.  It’s more sage than mint, which I personally think is more versatile and wearable for most skin tones.  Here are a few favorites that I’ve got my eye on now – see more of my top picks in the scrolling bar at the bottom of this post!

shades of green

Square Neck Top //  Satin Scarf Handbag // Buttoned Cardigan
Crossbody Bag // Mockneck Sweater // Croc Embossed Satchel
Square Neck Sundress // Midi Slip Skirt // Twist-Front Sweatshirt


St Tropez Tanning DropsLast week, I noticed that my skin was looking pretty dull (and dead-of-winterish pale), so I rubbed a couple drops of this in with my daily moisturizer and, within a few hours, I had a subtle sunkissed glow, which was just the pick-me-up I was needing!  The facial self-tanner I’ve used in the past was sadly discontinued, so I was happy to discover this as a replacement.  I like that it doesn’t dry my skin out, that it has a natural look to it and there isn’t a strong scent that’s so often present with self-tanners.


intuitive eating

One of my personal goals for 2021 is to work on having a healthier relationship with food.  I battled an eating disorder for 10 years when I was in my teens & early twenties…and, even though I successfully recovered, I recognize that this is an area where I still have struggles and where there is constant room for improvement.  It is slightly complicated by the fact that I do have some dietary restrictions due to my auto-immune disease, but I’m starting to make a concerted effort to practice more intuitive eating.  As hard as it is to let go of counting calories & macros, I’m learning that tracking those things only causes me to obsess more over what I’m putting into my body.  I ordered this book as a launching point, but there are lots of great articles you can read if you’re interested in learning more about this approach (here, here & here).  If you’re someone who has struggled with this in the past, I encourage you to explore intuitive eating – there is so much freedom to be found in rejecting “diet culture” & healing your relationship with food.


face mask chain

Admittedly, I’m late to the party with the adoption of this must-have accessory.  But, since face masks aren’t going away anytime soon, I decided it was time to invest in this trend because it’s so practical & helpful for keeping masks handy (plus, they look chic!).  I picked up this gold beaded chain (also love this 3-pack), this pearl chain, this paperclip chain, this tortoiseshell chain (in thin amber) and these woven cords for my husband & son (because they were constantly misplacing & losing their masks!).


Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze

Have you heard of brow laminating?  It’s a salon service that basically “perms” your brows to give them a straightened, uniform & full look.  If you do a quick Google search,  you can find some impressive before-and-after photos of the procedure.  As much as I love the finished look this gives, I’m not a fan of having all those chemicals that close to my eyes (and on my sensitive skin!).  So, I ordered this product to try & achieve similar results at home…and I’m in love!  This is totally different than any brow gel I’ve used before because it has a much stronger hold to it and it lasts all day long so even the tiniest brow hairs stay put.  A little goes a long way, so even though it’s a small jar, I know it will last me for several months.


It’s hard to believe there was a time when I only wore statement earrings or studs…because, right now, it would be a rare day if you found me NOT wearing hoops.  Whether they are slim & understated or chunky & bold, these are the earrings that I reach for the most often.  Lately, I’ve especially been gravitating towards anything that has a unique detail – twisted, ribbed, bejeweled or textured…these styles below are anything but basic & they all look far more expensive than they are!

Chic Hoop Earrings



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Current Beauty Favorites Wed, 13 Jan 2021 09:00:56 +0000

I always feel like the beginning of the year is the perfect time to establish new routines.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and one of my big goals for 2021 is to do a better job of caring for my body as a whole.  This means a lot of small […]

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I always feel like the beginning of the year is the perfect time to establish new routines.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and one of my big goals for 2021 is to do a better job of caring for my body as a whole.  This means a lot of small changes that I hope will add up to equal my healthiest year yet!  What this looks like for me is:

  • making daily movement a priority (not just when it’s convenient, but actually penciling it into my schedule each day)
  • listening to my body when it’s telling me that it needs rest (i.e, going to bed at a decent hour rather than binging the latest Netflix show)
  • incorporating vegetables into every meal (aiming for at least 50% of my plate to be veggies)
  • admitting when I need extra help (for example, I finally got tired of my debilitating joint pain & agreed to try a new medication that should improve it over time)

I’ve also found that since I began caretaking for my Dad, I’ve let a lot of the “caring for myself” get pushed to the back burner.  This has included me getting a little lax with my beauty routine and I had started to see the not-so-great side effects of that.  So, I thought I would share a little bit with you today about the challenges I’ve faced, the changes I’ve made & the things that have helped me the most.


Last month, I had a hair appointment and my stylist was commenting on how dry & brittle my hair was looking.  Part of it is due to a new Lupus medication I started, but part of it (she believes) is due to the products I’ve been using.  Because my hair is fairly thin, I always buy volumizing shampoos, mousse & thickening sprays to give it a boost.  The problem is that those types of products can be very drying and cause breakage if you’re not balancing them out with regular deep conditioners and/or masks.  So, she recommended a few key changes that have helped so much and I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the overall health of my hair since I’ve implemented them.  Here are the 3 products currently making the biggest impact for me:

Olaplex No 3

Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
In addition to switching from my volumizing shampoo/conditioner to this & this, she also recommended I start using this as a conditioning treatment twice a week.  Though the bottle says to apply it to damp hair & leave on for 10 minutes, I put it on and wrap my hair up with a clip and leave it in for several hours (I typically do it while I’m working from home).  Then, I’ll shower, rinse it out and shampoo/condition as usual.  If you want to try out all the products in this line, this set is a great deal!

Olaplex Bonding Oil

Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil
When this first arrived in the mail, I was a little disheartened by how small the container was, but I quickly discovered that a little goes a long way – this will easily last me for 6-9 months!  I rub a few drops into my palms and then work it through sections of my hair when it’s damp (using the “praying hands” method) and then blow dry/style as usual.  Not only does it prevent frizz & give your strands incredible shine, but it actually works on a molecular level to repair damaged hair from the inside out.  I credit the combination of this with the hair perfector as truly saving & transforming my hair.

Living Proof Heat Protectant

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray
Heat is the enemy of healthy hair and I have been one of the worst offenders of overusing it.  Because my hair is naturally curly, I always have my blowdryer on the highest setting so I can get it straight and smooth.  Then, I go in with a curling wand (which has been causing further damage to my already weak hair).  I’ve started trying to let it air dry as much as possible and only use my hot tools once a week.  But, when I do need to use them, I’ve begun religiously applying this heat protectant beforehand.  I like that it’s an aerosol versus a pump product because I feel like it does a better job of evenly coating my strands & it’s very lightweight and doesn’t weight my hair down in the process.


Now that I’m in my 40’s, my skin is much more finicky than it used to be, so I feel like I’m constantly trying new products in an effort to find that perfect combination to care for my aging skin.  My main concerns now are fine lines/wrinkles, dark spots/hyperpigmentation and moisturizing/dewy-ness.  These are the products that I’ve incorporated into a new regimen that are really impressing me and producing effective results:

It Cosmetics Daily Retinol

It Cosmetics Hello Results Daily Retinol Cream
This is a new product that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it as soon as it came out…mainly because I love pretty much everything I’ve ever tried from this brand.  If you have sensitive skin or have had a hard time with retinols in the past, this is the product for you!  I love that it’s gentle enough to use every day + it has a built in moisturizer so it doesn’t feel drying to the skin.  It’s only been a few weeks, but I’ve been very pleased with the results so far.  I apply it at night after washing my face and then layer my night cream on top of it.  I have the full size container (which has a handy one-pump dispenser), but you can order the smaller size to test it out first.  I also recently learned that you can return semi-used product to ULTA if you don’t love it or if it doesn’t agree with your skin!

Peter Thomas Roth Vitamin C Serum

Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Serum
I know I’ve shared about this serum before, but it bears repeating because it has made such a difference in the brightness and overall evenness of my skintone – it truly is a miracle product for me!  It also contains hyaluronic acid, which I think is why I like it so much more than other Vitamin C serums I’ve tried.  To be honest, I do hate the smell, but that’s the one small con of using a really potent serum like this (and, to be fair, the scent fades fairly quickly once its absorbed).  This is one of the more pricey skincare products that I use – if you buy it at Sephora, it’s $98, but I found it for $45 less here so I’m stocking up!

Pixi DetoxifEye Patches

Pixi DetoxifEYE Patches
This is a product I’ve loved for a while, but was only using occasionally.  However, as I’m getting older, I’m noticing more & more how pronounced the fine lines around my eyes are becoming.  And I’ve discovered that drier my skin is, the worse it is.  So, I’ve started using these patches as part of my morning skincare routine.  When I get up in the morning, I wash my face, apply my Vitamin C serum and moisturizer and then put these on.  I typically leave them on for a couple hours while I drink my coffee, check social media and respond to emails.  After I remove them, the skin around my eyes is so much more hydrated, plump & dewy looking.  Then, when I go to apply my makeup, I’ve found that my concealer doesn’t settle into those fine lines around my eyes as much…so it’s definitely making a difference!  There are 60 patches in this jar, so using it daily will last me for one month (I like to store mine in the fridge for a little extra cooling/depuffing effect).

SheaMoisture Body Oil

SheaMoisture Coconut Body Oil
I don’t know about you, but my skin can always use a little extra hydration during the winter months.  I had previously been using a body butter for moisturizing, but I felt like it took a while to absorb into my skin (who has the time?!) and I found that I was needing to reapply it throughout the day (less than ideal).  So, I picked this up on a whim during a recent Target trip and I have been loving it!  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m a big fan of this brand (I also use this body wash) – all their products are made with fair trade & natural ingredients, they don’t test on animals and they are family owned & operated.  I keep this bottle in my shower and apply it while my skin is still air drying – it absorbs quickly & it keeps my skin soft and smooth all day long + the scent is just heavenly.  Note: it’s 10% off right now when you use Target Circle!

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My Favorite Fall Beauty Products Tue, 22 Sep 2020 08:00:43 +0000

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fall makeup

If you haven’t already, this is the time of year to begin switching out your makeup for the new season.  Every September, I start to veer away from bright pink & coral tones and incorporate more nude, brown & burgundy hues.  Products that I typically don’t change this time of year are my eyeliner, brow pencil & mascara (I alternate between this one & this one).  But, everything else is swapped out for the remainder of the year.

I’ve been on a mission to revamp my own beauty cabinet, so I thought I’d share with you a few of my old stand-bys that I’m constantly repurchasing, along with some new favorites.  Now is a great time to stock up because Target has 15% off almost their entire beauty department this week (when you use Circle) & I found that all the Essie & OPI polishes at Kohl’s are on sale too!

fall beauty edit 2020

Essie Bed Rock & Roll
A deep red-toned brown creme (see on nails here)

Sally Hansen Buff And Tumble
A universally flattering true nude (see on nails here)

Nails Inc. Keep It Tonal Polish Set
I love all these neutral colors – wear them separately or create an ombre mani by painting a different shade on each nail (see on nails here)

Essie Bordeaux
A deep red wine creme (see on nails here)

OPI Italian A Little Rusty
A rich chestnut brown-meets-orange (see on nails here)

L’Oreal Paris Rouge Signature Lip Stain (I Empower)
I have such a hard time finding nude lip colors that don’t wash me out or make me look like a corpse & this one is the perfect warm pinkish nude.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick (Caramel Collector)
This is my fourth color of this lipstick & it’s currently my favorite formula to wear because it stays put all day long – I literally have to scrub it off at night!  This shade is a warm terracotta, but my other favorites are Amazonian, Lover & Self Starter.

L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Satin Lipstick (Cinnamon Toast)
While this doesn’t have the staying power of a matte stain formula, I love how moisturizing it is on my lips.  This color is a deep reddish brown.  I also own this lipstick in Fairest Nude & Toasted Almond (both great everyday neutrals).

e.l.f. Pumpkin Pie // e.l.f. Need It Nude // e.l.f. Cream & Sugar
If you’re someone who doesn’t do an elaborate eye look every day, I honestly don’t think you need to spend a fortune on an expensive palette, when you’ll most likely only use a few of the shadows.  I recently bought one of these for my daughter and decided to test it out myself because I wanted to see how it performed compared to my more expensive brands.  I was honestly shocked!  The pigmentation & blendability is just as good + I had zero fallout onto my cheekbones while applying – such a great deal for the price!

NYX Contouring Wonder Stick (Universal)
I don’t do contouring every day, but even when I do, I want it to be as quick & simple as possible.  This stick makes it a cinch because the creamy formula glides on in one stroke and blends seamlessly.  I apply this after my foundation & setting powder & I use my finger rather than a brush to blend, because I feel like it gives me more control.

Sonia Kashuk Makeup Bag
The zipper broke on the small makeup pouch I usually keep in my purse, so I bought this one as a replacement.  Not only do I love the color & the texture of it, but it’s the perfect size for storing my cosmetics for on-the-go touch-ups.

Beauty Kate Oval Makeup Brush Set
After seeing so many beauty tutorials using this type of brush, I decided to buy my own to try.  I settled on this affordable version so I can see if I like this style before buying a more expensive brand.  What I like is that the fibers are really densely packed into the brush, so it picks up more products & blends better than a traditional brush.  The small ones are a total game-changer for applying concealer because they get right into the corners around your eyes!  Not sure how these will hold up over time, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality so far (I’ve only washed them once).

Wet ‘N Wild Mega Glow Blushlighter (Flash Me)
This is another great budget buy & if you use Circle, you can get an extra 15% off!  I just think this is the prettiest color combo for cheeks & I love that it combines the highlighter & blush together.  I prefer to use a more mauvey blush & golden highlighter this time of year (versus the pink blush & icy highlight I use in the summer).  This formula gives you a sheer wash of color with a slight shimmer that’s not glittery at all.


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Summer Beauty Favorites + Drugstore Dupes Thu, 25 Jun 2020 15:00:32 +0000

This is the time of year when I tend to scale back on my beauty routine – in fact, I think there have only been a handful of days since we moved that I’ve actually put on a full face of makeup!  I’ve been testing out lots of drugstore options lately and have been amazed […]

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This is the time of year when I tend to scale back on my beauty routine – in fact, I think there have only been a handful of days since we moved that I’ve actually put on a full face of makeup!  I’ve been testing out lots of drugstore options lately and have been amazed by what I’ve found.  While I do believe some products are worth paying more for, I have found some great affordable options that are strikingly similar in both formulation & finish.  So, for those who are looking to save a few dollars on their beauty routine, I’m sharing my top picks for a fresh-faced summer look that’s also easy on your wallet:

summer beauty drugstore finds

1) Fresh Sugar Lip Polish vs. Burt’s Bees Lip Scrub
To be honest, I’ve never tried the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish (which uses brown sugar, shea butter & jojoba oil) – but, it’s cheaper counterpart is 100% natural & works like magic to soften chapped lips.  And it’s $16 less than the more expensive scrub!

2) NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer vs. Maybelline Fit Me Concealer
This is such a close dupe that I almost couldn’t believe it!  The drugstore version has an creamy consistency with a slight hint of radiance to it & the coverage is excellent – I tried it in my undereye area and didn’t have any issues with creasing.

3) Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment vs. Babo Botanicals Lip Tint
These both have SPF15 built-in & provide a pretty sheer wash of color that’s perfect for summer – but after investigating the ingredients list, I discovered that the Fresh Sugar lip balm has added fragrance and alcohol.  The more affordable option is 100% natural and comes in four different colors (see them all here) – I purchased the Crimson Rose, which is a mauvey berry hue that’s universally flattering.

4) It Cosmetics CC+ Cream vs. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Perfector
There are a few differences between these products – It Cosmetics has SPF50 and Neutrogena has SPF20 and the Neutrogena formula has retinol added.  In terms of consistency and coverage, these are very similar, though there are less skintone options available for the drugstore version.

5) Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz vs. NYX Cosmetics Microbrow Pencil
After picking up this NYX pencil on a recent Target run, I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to buying the more expensive one (which I was using previously).  These are an exact match in shade, ease of application & staying power (I wear Taupe).

6) Supergoop Glow Screen vs. UnSun Cosmetics Mineral Tinted Sunscreen
After falling in love with the Supergoop sunscreen & realizing how quickly I would be going through it this summer, I set out in search of a budget-friendly alternative.  I tried several drugstore brands and this UnSun Cosmetics sunscreen was my favorite (honorable mention goes to this one).  It has less of a sheen/radiance than the Supergoop formula (and it’s SPF30 vs. SPF40), but I like that it’s mineral based and evens out my skintone (perfect for those no-makeup days).

7) Glossier Cloud Paint vs. Flower Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops
In the summer, I try to avoid as many powder makeup products as I can because they can look cakey and don’t always wear well in the heat & humidity.  Both of these blushes are a mix between a gel & a cream, which makes them so easy to blend & build to the intensity you want.  I bought the colors Pinched & Melon, which give the most natural-looking flush – I love them so much I may never go back to powder blush again!

8) Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray vs. Milani Make It Last Setting Spray
I’ve talked about this Urban Decay spray quite a bit before and it has been my go-to for a while.  But when my daughter started using mine regularly, I realized I needed to find a less expensive option.  I tried a few from NYX & Revlon, but this one was  the closest to my old standby & the most effective by far.

9) Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara vs. L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
I’ve worn Voluminous mascara off & on for years so I was anxious to try this new version.  It is mind-blowingly similar to the Too Faced mascara (right down to the brush!) – I bought the Blackest Black, which also comes in waterproof.

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Sephora Spring Savings Event Tue, 21 Apr 2020 05:00:23 +0000

Over the weekend, I had lots of requests come in asking for me to share my picks from the Sephora sale. For those who don’t know, they just launched their Spring Savings Event – they only do this type of sale twice a year so it’s a great time to pick up those items you […]

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Over the weekend, I had lots of requests come in asking for me to share my picks from the Sephora sale. For those who don’t know, they just launched their Spring Savings Event – they only do this type of sale twice a year so it’s a great time to pick up those items you use regularly for less.

Here’s all the details: Rogue members get 20% off thru 5/1, VIB members get 15% off thru 4/29 and Insiders get 10% off 4/23-4/27.  Just use code SPRINGSAVE at checkout to redeem (if you’re not already an Insider, you can sign up for free here & take advantage of these savings).  They’re also offering free shipping on all orders thru 5/1 with code FREESHIP!

There are so many products on their site that it can feel a little overwhelming, especially if you’re wanting to try something new.  I always recommend reading through the reviews before purchasing – and even if you buy something that you test out & don’t love, they have a generous return policy even for used products.  I’m sharing my tried-and-true favorites with you below – these are all things I use on a regular basis and love so I feel confident recommending them.  I’ll be repurchasing lots of these as back-ups for when I run out of what I’m using now.

Sephora Spring Savings Event

Farmacy Brightening Eye Cream
I’m quickly becoming a big fan of this brand – I have yet to try a product of theirs that I don’t absolutely love, so you’ll see quite a few of them here!  This was my most recent purchase from them & I’ve been using it since mid-February (first mentioned here).  I love that this is a heavier eye cream so it’s really hydrating, which helps with that crepey-looking texture around the eyes (note: I wait a good 10 minutes after applying before putting on my makeup).  And I do think that I’ve seen a slight improvement in my dark circles – a lot of my issue is hereditary, so I’ll never be rid of them completely, but this has definitely helped!

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
I’ve been using Tarte Shape Tape as my go-to undereye concealer for over a year, but I just started having issues recently with it creasing on me (I blame it on my aging skin).  So, when I received a sample of this with my last Sephora order, I gave it a try and now I’ll never go back.  Concealers are so tricky because everyone’s skin tone and texture is different, but I really like the texture and staying power of this one.  I recommend getting the mini size to start – a little goes a long way with this product, so even the smaller version will last you a while (I use the shade Vanilla).

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
This is the most expensive item in my collage, but it’s worth including because the results are that good.  This is the best mask I’ve ever tried for minimizing pores & softening skin.  The smell isn’t my favorite, but I think that’s due to the fact that it’s 100% natural, which I really appreciate.  I’ve only been using it once a week to make it last longer – but, if it wasn’t so pricey, I would definitely use it more often!  Another option would be to purchase this skincare set, which comes with a cleanser & a smaller jar of this mask (about $20 cheaper than the full-size jar on its own).

Kiehl’s Overnight Lip Repair Treatment
This has truly saved my lips this winter – anytime my jar gets low, I immediately order more.  It has a thick & creamy consistency with the most heavenly smell.  I apply it every night before bed and wake up with soft smooth lips each morning.

Nails Inc. Polish Duo
This base coat + polish combo is a great buy – sometimes I just wear the base coat on its own for an American manicure look.  One of my biggest pet peeves with a lot of red nail polishes is that they aren’t opaque enough, but this one gives such good coverage that you can get away with just applying one coat.  This formula has great staying power & dries quickly (note: this shade is more of a warmer brick red vs. a bright cherry red).

Olly Lustrous Hair Gummies
Anytime I can take my supplements in gummy form, I’m all for it because I hate swallowing pills.  I haven’t been taking these long enough to report my results yet, but I love the flavor of them + they get amazing reviews.  We are big fans of this brand in our house – we all take their multivitamins and my daughter swears that these stress gummies help with her anxiety levels throughout the day.  I plan to keep taking these & report back in a few more months – fingers crossed!

Urban Decay Setting Spray
I blame my daughter for getting me hooked on this because I never even thought to use a setting spray before.  Someone brought this in for the cast of her musical to use on their stage makeup & I was blown away by how well it worked – her makeup was still flawless after multiple performances, costume changes & sweating under the stage lights.  I only used it for photo shoots or date nights in the winter, but will be using daily once summer rolls around – highly recommend trying out the mini size if you live somewhere that is hot and/or humid.

Farmacy AHA Resurfacing Night Serum
If you have aging skin (in your 30’s or older), this serum is amazing for treating dark spots, evening out skin tone and getting rid of dullness.  There is a little tingling when you first apply it, but it’s nothing too severe – it also has a nice scent to it that I love.  Nothing beats the glow I wake up with in the morning when I use this the night before!

Farmacy Hydrating Sheet Mask
I’ve tried a lot of sheet masks over the years and this one remains my favorite.  The first time I used it, I couldn’t get over how glowy & soft my skin was.  The ingredients are clean, it fits well (doesn’t slide off your face like some masks) & is the perfect extra moisturizing step for skin that’s become dry through the winter.

It Cosmetics Primer
When I first put this on, the formula felt so light, I thought I was going to hate it – but I was amazed by how much better my makeup wore throughout the day than the primer I was previously using.  That being said, if you have dry skin, I would recommend this Smashbox primer instead because it’s more hydrating.

Tan Luxe The Face Drops
These were a quarantine purchase for me just a few weeks ago and, so far, I’m loving the results.  I had to experiment a little with the amount – I started with 3 drops and it was a little darker than I wanted so I’m now using 2 drops per application, which gives me a natural looking tan.  I use the Light/Medium shade & just mix it in with my evening moisturizer).  Note: be sure to wash your hands immediately after applying!

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector
This is basically an at-home mask treatment – you put it on damp hair, leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing out & then shampoo & condition as usual.  My stylist recommended using the Olaplex shampoo & conditioner once a week to help repair my strands and this treatment takes it even one step further.  My hair has never looked shinier or healthier – will definitely be repurchasing!

Hourglass Translucent Setting Powder
This is my favorite powder for setting my makeup – it has a silky finish & doesn’t settle into fine lines.  This does give a more matte finish to the skin, so I use it sparingly.  This also comes in a mini size if you want to try it out before buying the full size version.

Becca Hydra-Mist Setting Powder
I wanted to include this powder in my round-up too because it’s cheaper than the Hourglass powder and it might be better for those looking for something with lighter coverage and/or a more dewy finish.  I took the mini size of this powder with me on my India trip & loved applying it because it has a cooling effect on the skin that feels amazing when it’s hot outside.

Living Proof Dry Shampoo
I buy this stuff in bulk and have been using it even more now that we’re in quarantine.  I buy a mix of the full-size bottles and the mini size (great for travel) – if you’ve never tried this or if you’re looking for a good dry shampoo, I can’t say enough good things about this!

Charlotte Tilbury Blush
My favorite blush was discontinued this year so I began the search for a replacement & this one has become my new favorite.  I know it’s expensive for blush, but I don’t use a lot of it so I know it will last me for a while + I haven’t found anything else that blends or stays put as well as this does.  I use the Pillow Talk Intense shade (a mauvey rose hue)  but I’m thinking about ordering in Ecstasy (a peachy pink) for the summer months.

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
This is one of my top 5 holy grail beauty products – it works like magic to blur imperfections and give you a luminous glow without the need for makeup.  I apply this after my primer & before my CC cream to create a lit-from-within effect (I use the Light shade).  But, on days when I’m not wearing foundation, I’ll put my sunscreen on with this on top & it’s the perfect amount of light coverage.  You can also use it over your foundation just on cheekbones & down the bridge of your nose as a highlighter.

It Cosmetics CC+ Cream
This is the best full-coverage foundation, in my opinion.  It blends well, doesn’t look heavy & has a natural-looking finish.  I have recommended this to so many of you since I started using it and you’ve all told me how much you love it!  They’ve come out with so many different versions (see them all here), but I still prefer the original formula.  I use the Light shade in the winter/spring and switch to Light Medium in the summer/fall.  It has SPF50 built-in, along with hyaluronic acid, peptides & collagen for anti-aging benefits.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Hands down, the best brow pencil on the market.  Anytime this goes on sale, I order extra because I’m so scared of running out!  I was using Soft Brown before, but once I started adding more highlights to my hair, I switched & now use Taupe, which looks softer & more natural with my lighter strands.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
I’ve been using this powdered collagen for years and swear by it for a healthy gut – I also attribute it to making my nails so strong.  I stir one scoop into my coffee each morning – it’s flavorless & dissolves completely so you don’t even know you’re drinking it (you can also add it to smoothies, oatmeal, etc.).  I usually buy the largest size tub, but the individual serving packets are great for travel or on the go.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer
I bought the mini size of this bronzer to try out and I’ve been amazed by how long it’s lasted me.  I use the Radiant Finish and it gives my skin the perfect sunkissed glow.  So many bronzers I’ve tried look too orange or ruddy, but this one has a realistic warmth that’s really flattering.

Supergoop Glowscreen Sunscreen
I mentioned this last month after I used it for the first time & I can’t recommend it enough!  It provides you with SPF40 & has the most lightweight feel of any sunscreen I’ve used.  Plus, it has a slight tint to it & it gives you the prettiest glow – perfect for no makeup days!

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Volumizing Mousse
I still try other volumizing products from time to time, but I always seem to come back to this mousse.  It actually makes my hair look thicker and doesn’t have a sticky residue + I love how lightweight it feels.

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Fall Beauty Mon, 10 Sep 2018 05:00:16 +0000

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fall beauty

Several of you have written in with beauty questions lately, so rather than include those in my monthly Q&A, I decided to dedicate a post to it today!  Many of you’ve mentioned that you just want something quick & easy but you’re not sure where to start…and others of you have said that you have a hard time pairing products together for a complete look.  So I’ve created a guide to 3 different makeup looks that should meet all your needs.  I was careful to stick with budget-friendly products that I’ve either used myself or that have great reviews online & I chose colors that would work with any skin tone.  I hope this helps you discover some new favorites to incorporate into your current beauty routine!

Multi-Balm Stick // Brow Mascara // Neutral Nail Polish
Face Oil // Jumbo Eye Pencil // Waterproof Mascara

This is the simplest & easiest of the three looks – great for those who don’t have a lot of getting ready time each morning.  This will get you out the door quickly & give you a soft, pretty look that accentuates your natural beauty.  This multi-balm stick does double-duty as a blush & lip color – I’m a big fan of anything in stick form because you can just swipe it on & go.  Same goes for this jumbo eye pencil, which glides across lids and leaves a shimmery glow.  Bring subtle definition to your eyes with this easy to apply brow gel & waterproof mascara that will stay put all day long.  Then, finish things off with a neutral nail color that will go with everything (shade is A Greta-Operatunity).

Shimmering Baked Blush // Mauve Nail Polish // Matte Lip Duo
Micro Brow Pencil // Eyeshadow Palette // Brown Mascara

When I was having my makeup done for a photo shoot with several other bloggers, the artist used a mauve eyeshadow palette like this one because it was universally flattering on all of us.  This eyebrow pencil is a nearly identical dupe for the Anastasia one that I’ve been using – it has a super fine tip so you can create realistic looking strokes to fill in & define your brows (comes in 6 shades – I use Ash Brown).  And I just picked up this matte lip color after seeing it on a friend of mine – it’s the prettiest dusty rose (see examples on different skin tones here – color is Suck It Out).  Side note: if you’re needing a new brush set, this one is absolutely stunning & currently on sale (would also make a great gift).  I also love the colors in this nail polish set & it’s an amazing price!

Blush + Bronzer Duo // Brown Nail Polish // Liquid Highlighter
Tinted Brow Mascara // Gold Eyeliner // Eyeshadow Palette
Volumizing Mascara // Velvet Lip Gloss

This is a more dramatic look with warm, rich tones that are perfect for fall.  One of my favorite tricks is using this metallic pencil to line the inside rim of your lower lash line – it really draws attention to your eyes & gives a nice subtle sparkle.  When you’re using warmer shades, I recommend picking a highlighter with a golden undertone (rather than an icy tint) like this oneThis lip gloss is even more gorgeous in person and it’s an amazing price for a luxury brand!  I just ordered this nail polish & I have a feeling I’ll be wearing it a lot this season.  Other neutral nail colors that I own & love (under $5): this perfect greige, this warm camel & this dark taupe.


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Simple Contouring Thu, 28 Jan 2016 10:00:00 +0000

  After I mentioned how much I’ve been loving my new contour palette (here), so many of you expressed interest in learning how I’ve been using it on a daily basis.  I know there are a million contouring tutorials out there, but I hope that mine will show you that you can achieve subtle definition […]

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After I mentioned how much I’ve been loving my new contour palette (here), so many of you expressed interest in learning how I’ve been using it on a daily basis.  I know there are a million contouring tutorials out there, but I hope that mine will show you that you can achieve subtle definition in a few simple steps.  My philosophy with makeup in general is to use it to enhance, not overpower, and my goal is always for mine to look as natural as possible.  I realize that most women don’t have a ton of time to spend getting ready each morning, so I hope that this guide will be easy to incorporate into your usual routine on days when you want that extra little oomph.

The concept behind contouring is fairly simple – you apply a darker powder on any areas you want to recede (or push back) and a lighter shade on any areas you want to highlight (or bring forward).  While there are very dramatic ways to use this technique, I like to apply the principle in small doses to play up my features & enhance the shape of my face.  I also don’t like the way my skin feels when I’m wearing a lot of product, so my approach produces a much more natural effect.  It took me a little longer the first few times I tried it out, but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I can do these steps in less than 5 minutes!

STEP 1: It’s absolutely crucial to start with well-hydrated skin so you get that soft dewy look.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t say enough good things about this POND’S Dry Skin Cream.  It has been a life-saver for me this season & has quickly become one of my winter skincare essentials!  I rub a small amount on my face & neck before applying my makeup and it keeps my skin well-moisturized all day long.  Tip: Give it a few minutes to “soak in” before putting on your makeup OR mix a small amount in with your foundation to create your own luminous tinted moisturizer.

STEP 2: After you’ve applied all your makeup, start with a darker shade powder that matches the undertone of your skin (I used Fawn).  Using a fan brush, sweep the color lightly underneath your cheekbone, focusing on the area back by your ear and stopping in the hollow of your cheek.  Then using the same sweeping motion, also apply the darker powder underneath the line of your jawbone.  Tip: Start with a light application and build up the intensity as needed – it’s easier to add more than to take away. 

STEP 3: (optional) Because I have a long nose & tall forehead, I also contour these areas.  (I found this illustration helpful in determining the areas to focus on.)  Using the fan brush, apply a small amount of the dark powder all around your hairline at the top of your forehead.  Switch to a small definition brush & apply the dark powder in a straight line down the sides of your nose.  If you have a wider nose, you can extend the line all the way to the tip and this will have a narrowing effect.  Tip: The key to subtle definition is blending until there are no visible lines, only a gradual change of color.

STEP 4: Using a fluffy brush, apply highlighter to the tops of cheekbones in a crescent shape, sweeping up to your temples.  You can be more liberal with the highlighter application – I like a generous amount and this particular shade (I used Sand) is hard to overdo.  Tip: I also like to rub a bit of highlighter on my finger tip and apply it on the bridge of my nose & my browbones.


This post was created in connection with my appointment as Influencer for POND’S.
Visit POND’S Pinterest for more skin care tips.
All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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Holiday Beauty Tue, 22 Dec 2015 10:00:00 +0000

  As much as I love a traditional red lip for the holidays, this is the time of year to play around with your makeup & try something a little more unique & special.  If you’ve been invited to several events this season, it’s a great idea to experiment with different looks for each party […]

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As much as I love a traditional red lip for the holidays, this is the time of year to play around with your makeup & try something a little more unique & special.  If you’ve been invited to several events this season, it’s a great idea to experiment with different looks for each party you’re attending.  I always try to coordinate my makeup with the outfit I’m wearing and then style my hair appropriately to complement the look.  Today I’m sharing three simple beauty combinations + a makeup blending technique that will keep your skin glowing all night long!  To make things simple, all of the eye shadows I chose for these looks are from this palette, which I have been using daily since I purchased it back in September – it was a bit of a splurge for me at the time, but I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of it!

It’s so important to start with a smooth base when doing your makeup.  I’ve talked before about how crucial it is to adjust your skincare for the colder dryer weather & I’ve recently adopted a new trick that is really keeping my skin moisturized throughout the day.  I simply mix together equal parts of the POND’S Dry Skin Cream with my usual foundation (I use Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation).  Not only does this help seal the moisture into my skin, but it also gives a luminous finish to my makeup.  Once I have completed this step, I apply my undereye concealer & set it all with a light dusting of translucent powder.   Here are three festive party looks I created to give you some new ideas to try:


ZARA Crystal Headband (similar here, here or here)


Apply Radar eyeshadow all over lid & then apply DirtySweet on the inner 1/3 of the eyelid. Trace your lower lash line with the bronze eye crayon and blend, extending just beyond the outer corner in a soft wing shape.  Apply shimmering gold liner to the inner corner of eyes.  Apply one layer of mascara to top & bottom lashes.  Brush on bronzer just underneath your cheekbones to create definition.  Lightly blend liquid highlighter on cheekbones. Finish with a soft coral lipstick.




BaubleBar Earrings (similar here, here or here)


Apply Dagger all over your eyelid, stopping just above the crease.  Then apply Slanted to the inner 1/3 of eyelid & Black Market to the outer corners, blending well.  Trace along your upper lash line & inside your lower rim with the black pencil.  Using an angled brush, press Black Market along your lower lash line and soften by smoothing over it gently with your finger.  Curl lashes and apply two coats of mascara.  Using a fluffy brush, apply a light layer of pink blush to the apples of your cheeks & sweeping up towards your cheekbones.  Finish with a soft pink lipcolor.


Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette (colors: Slanted, Dagger & Black Market)
BeautyCounter Eye Pencil (Black) // MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara
NARS Blush (Gaiety) // NARS Velvet Lip Pencil (Roman Holiday)




Apply High from your lash line to brow bone.  Using a fine-tip angled brush, use Whiskey to “tightline” along the upper & lower lashes.  Curl your lashes & apply one coat of mascara.  Using tweezers, carefully zip individual lashes into the glue & apply one at a time until you’ve reached your desired fullness.  Apply another light coat of mascara to blend fake lashes with your natural ones.  Lightly blend the liquid highlighter onto cheekbones, temples inner corner of eyes & cupid’s bow.  Finish with a deep burgundy lipstick & a small dab of gloss in the center of your bottom lip.


Visit POND’S Pinterest for more skin care tips.

All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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Matte Makeup + Removal Tips Thu, 29 Oct 2015 08:00:00 +0000

  Although I love fresh-faced luminous skin, there is something so beautiful about a completely matte look for fall & winter.  This is perfect for those upcoming holiday parties and evening events because matte makeup tends to stay put longer than its lightweight dewy counterpart.  Today I’m sharing a new tutorial using pretty feminine colors […]

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Although I love fresh-faced luminous skin, there is something so beautiful about a completely matte look for fall & winter.  This is perfect for those upcoming holiday parties and evening events because matte makeup tends to stay put longer than its lightweight dewy counterpart.  Today I’m sharing a new tutorial using pretty feminine colors in blush & deep berry and I’m also providing my tips for how to remove your longwear or matte makeup in a simple & gentle way with POND’S Cold Cream.

Step 1: Create a matte base.  For everyday wear, I use BeautyCounter Tint Skin because I love the lightweight coverage.  But for photo shoots & evening, I apply Estée Lauder Double Wear because it’s a full-coverage foundation with a matte finish.  I use this concealer under my eye area and set it with this loose powder.

Step 2: Apply soft pink shadow all over your eyelids, stopping just above the crease.  

Step 3: Then apply deep berry shadow in your crease, blending well as you go.

Step 4: Apply black eyeliner along your top lash line only & extend it slightly beyond the outside of your eye, creating a subtle wing.  I love this pencil because it’s gentle on my sensitive eyes and it’s also great for smudging when I want to go for a smokier look.  

Step 5: Curl & coat lashes with your favorite black mascara (I’m partial to this lengthening formula).

Step 6: Apply matte pink blush to your cheekbones – the majority of the color should be deposited near the back towards your ear with just a light dusting on the apples of your cheeks.  This color looks frighteningly bright in the packaging, but it’s a sheer formula that, when applied lightly, gives a realistic flushed look.

Step 7: Apply matte lipstick in a rich burgundy hue.  If you don’t want to buy a new lipstick, you can use a regular creme formula you already own, blot with tissue paper and dust powder on top to create a matte finish.

I first was introduced to POND’S Cold Cream back in my high school drama class.  We had to wear heavy pancake makeup for the stage and they gave us this cream to remove it after each play.  Stage makeup is known for being not only thick, but also incredibly drying & irritating.  This cream gently removed every trace of makeup & replenished our skin with the moisture it needed.  


To be honest, I haven’t used it since then because I’d fallen so in love with the convenience of these cleansing towelettes.  But, since skin needs all the moisture it can get in the cold weather months, it’s the ideal time to try it for makeup removal.  I used a quarter sized amount and began rubbing it into my skin gently in a circling motion. In less than 5 seconds, my makeup began coming off as I worked it in.  

After everything was removed, I used a wet washcloth to wipe the excess away (I went over it several times to make sure I got everything).  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s just as quick & easy as my beloved wipes and my skin felt so soft afterwards.  I think this is a great way to switch up my nightly routine this winter & give my skin that extra boost of moisture that it needs!


This post was created in connection with my appointment as Influencer for POND’S.
Visit POND’S Pinterest for more skin care tips.
All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

The post Matte Makeup + Removal Tips appeared first on Penny Pincher Fashion.