Test Drives: Drugstore Eye Creams

We love getting requests for reviews and post ideas. Nothing makes us happier than hearing you are reading our articles and want more! (That and sharing E&N with your friends, hint hint.) But we will admit–we were really nervous when we got asked on our Facebook page if we could recommend some cost-effective eye creams. Generally, eye creams are the type of product we are willing to spend a little more money on. None of us had a drugstore eye cream we felt comfortable recommending. So we each agreed to abandon our nighttime under eye routines and test drive a drugstore eye cream for one month. Since we are all in our 40s, keeping signs of aging at bay is a shared concern. But–we decided our love for you was worth risking increased bags, circles and lines.

Our challenge was to test drive some drugstore eye creams was on. Would we find one that’s pretty good actually? Read and find out!

Pamela: ROC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream

Eye cream is something I don’t generally skimp on price wise. I currently use (and almost through my second pot of)  the Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-aging eye cream which runs $74.00 for .5 oz.  Not cheap.  But does it work?  Oh yes.  HELL yes.  In fact I noticed results only 5 days after I started using it.  I was sold – hook, line and sinker.  So naturally, I had reservations about trying something from the drugstore….. but in the name of blog research, you get what you ask for!  So let us see whatcha got ROC.  Promising to visibly reduce wrinkles around the eyes, crow’s feet, puffiness and dark circles at $19.99 for the same amount of product ( .5 oz.), it was definitely a bargain. First impressions: Smells normal and non offensive and has kind of a thin consistency.  No big problem with that.  I should note that I was initially a little wary of the retinol aspect of it, being so close to the eye, would it irritate them?  Nope. In fact, retinol is down so low on the list of ingredients, I’m sure that there isn’t enough in it to have them even list the percent (which they don’t.)  The first week I was slightly surprised to see it seemed to be doing a pretty good job!  One of the nights I had been out for pho (salt) and wine (not water) and normally my eyes are super puffy the morning after that sort of meal.  Using it that night, I was pleased to see it took care of those unfortunate side effects beautifully….. and I started to wonder if I would have to spend $74 bucks on eye cream ever again!  Well, I wondered too soon. While it seemed to hold it’s own on the moisture front, I was beginning to see that my dark circles were getting darker again.  Then I began to notice makeup settling into my fine lines which clearly showed me that I was indeed slowly but surely losing moisture and plumpness.  It was two weeks in that I threw in the towel and went back to Algenist, again noticing results in just a few days….. and I will never look back…… or at least not for a while.

Jess: Cerave Eye Repair Cream

I’m pretty fairweather about eye creams, since I haven’t found my ride or die, and for some reason eye creams aren’t high on my priority list. My biggest eye-related challenges are oldness (my eyelids are getting crepey) and irritation, especially during allergy season. Because they are so touchy, I am cautious about using anything too hard core- even the most well-meaning products have left my tender eyeball area stinging and red. Not cute. Usually I reach for Simple Soothing Eye Balm. It’s fairly inexpensive (around $10), aroma neutral, and really does soothe and depuff my eyes, but it doesn’t really do much in the anti-aging department. It also doesn’t do well under makeup, so I tend to only use it at night or “as needed”. So for this post, I got brave and tried another drugstore find- Cerave Eye Repair Cream (also around $10- apparently I have a low threshold for spending more than a Hamilton on eye cream). Sadly, this did not knock my socks off. I have used- and liked- other Cerave products in the past, but this eye cream didn’t really seem to do anything, much less any repairing. In fact, I’ve noticed my eyelids feeling more crepey and dehydrated since using it. It’s not terrible, I guess, and it does dry down with a bit of a tack, so it’s ok under makeup. I might throw this in my travel bag, but for now, maybe I’ll go get a sample of that Algenist one… and consider increasing my eye cream budget.

Lyn: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Eye Swirl Gel Cream Treatment.

Just like my sisters above–I was super nervous about this challenge. I have two eye creams that I’ve been using together regularly: Philosophy Miracle Worker Eye Cream and Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchronized Complex II. (that’s a mouthful!) I put the later on first and the former on after. Both creams are pricey at $69 and $65, respectively. I’m so concerned about my under eye area (which I have previously discussed) I’ve also tried even MORE expensive creams in the hopes of finding magic in a bottle. But the others were disappointing (looking at you, Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum and Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream) so the combo above has been my ride or die for a few years now.

So when we decided to give a drugstore eye cream a one month trial, I feared it would set me back years. But then I remembered that beautypedia.com ends every eye cream review with a disclaimer that eye creams are a hoax–and who know? maybe they are–so I decided to just suck it up and give it a go. In selecting a drugstore eye cream, I had only one requirement: it must be a pump. I hate pots. So with that in mind, I went to Target and settled on the Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Eye Swirl Gel Cream Treatment. (clearly i like products with ridiculously long names.) I felt encouraged–it’s a pump, it’s got a swirl like one of my favorite night creams, Meaningful Beauty Creme de Serum, and I used the Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Daily Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer throughout my 20s and really liked it. Plus the package says it “firms & brightens for younger-looking eyes” which is exactly what I wanted to hear!

And guess what–it’s pretty good actually!!! It shares my favorite feature of my Philosophy cream–it’s thick. Like super heavy and substantial but not waxy. I don’t like eye creams that are too watery. I feel like they just slide down my face and aren’t focused on the job at hand. And because it’s so thick, even one pump is too much. A half a pump is plenty. To conform to the challenge, I used it alone and didn’t double it up with a serum. And I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between my $68 eye cream and this one–which is pricey for a drugstore at $19.99–but it’s still much cheaper than what I generally throw down.


We have a winner!

I’m going to continue using the Olay Regenerist even now that the challenge is over but I’m going start partnering it with the Estee Lauder serum to see what happens. But regardless–I totally recommend saving some bucks and checking out this drugstore find!

What’s your ride or die eye cream? Do you have any drugstore eye creams you would recommend? We’d love to hear about them!

(Hoping to save money in the future, we all shelled out some of our own cash to purchase these drugstore eye creams.)

Pretty Good Actually: Bullet Journal

So, this is a pretty accurate picture of the inside of my brain at all times:


the linked article from waitbutwhy.com also really gets me

Throughout my life, I have always preferred to have too much going on than not enough. I like to have my hands in lots of projects and I am often having ideas about what to do next. Hilariously, though, I am also a chronic procrastinator. To add insult to injury, I also have a work schedule that has inconsistent hours and my busy-ness ebbs and flows from week to week, so I don’t have a good, structured routine to my life. As you can guess, my brain is always pinging around, thinking of all the random things I need and/or want to get done, but when I have a chance to actually sit down and do stuff, I am so unfocused and overwhelmed that I just zone out and watch YouTube videos, then wonder why I never actually get anything done.

Yes, I am aware of Evernote. And Google Calendar. And the Notes app. There are tons of tools out there that work great for some people, but I guess I have come to terms with the fact that I am more analog, more kinesthetic- I am way more inclined to remember something that I have physically written down with a (really nice) pen in a (really nice) notebook than popping into an electronic calendar that has no top or bottom or sides or frame for my brain to hold on to it with. I’ve tried traditional planners on and off over the years, and while some have had features that were flexible enough for me, most left me feeling too restricted, or like I was wasting pages that didn’t apply to me.

A few months ago, some articles related to Bullet Journals were popping up in my feed on Facebook. At first I rolled my eyes. I mean, sure, I’ve been sucked into watching videos of people planning in their Erin Condren planners and thought this was straight crazy- who has all this time to plan their week WITH STICKERS and templates and pages they bought from etsy?? You would have to plan your planning! It was all to twee for this girl, plus I could see it becoming a great way to procrastinate actually doing the things I was planning. But there was something about the Bullet Journal that made me click on one of these posts, and it suddenly all made sense:

A Bullet Journal isn’t a planner; It’s a place to put my brain.

The creator of the Bullet Journal system (Ryder Carroll) kept things simple. You need a notebook (any notebook will do!) and a pen. Each section is basically a list. A list of days in the month. A list of tasks and a simple system to note if you completed them, or moved them to the next list. A list of books you want to read. A list of your favorite songs for the year. Random ideas you have. Whatever. It is completely flexible and adaptable to YOUR BRAIN and how it wants to deal with information, but it’s kept in one indexed notebook, not scattered around on hundreds of random post it notes, napkins, and apps.

bullet-pensHere’s my bullet journal. It is a soft cover Moleskin with a dot-grid pattern on the pages. See, I’m a sucker for a nice notebook, so the tactile experience of opening and writing in this type of book really makes me happy, but you can use any notebook you like. I also have a few pens that I like- a Sharpie fine point pen, Stablio pens in a bunch of colors, and this Japanese mildliner. This is about the extent of my craziness. Ok fine- I have a few rolls of washi tape, which I use to edge pages that I want to be able to access quickly.


First Thing’s First: Time Management

future log

future log

One of the first things you want to add is an index. After that, it’s up to you. I started mine with a Future Log, which honestly, I didn’t think I would use. Turns out, it’s a great place to stick stuff that you want to remember in the future, but don’t have a place for yet. For example, I needed to remember to renew my license plates in October, but when I started my journal in September, I didn’t have an October to write it in.



month view

Here’s October, over to the left. Now you may be thinking “Jess, um, are you really taking the time to draw a calendar when calendars already exist??” Yes, yes I am. I find it oddly soothing and settling somehow to look at a month, draw it, and then add all of my out-of-the-ordinary appointments, events, and anything else I want to see a “big picture” view of (like those blue E&N posts).


daily view

Next, we have weekly pages. I know! I hear you! “This is so redundant!!” But that, my friend, is the beauty. I can see the whole year, the whole month, then a whole week, and actually have a grasp on it. Some people go on to daily pages after their weeks, but I haven’t had a reason to drill down that far (I do still keep my daily work appointments on an electronic calendar). The weekly pages are my favorites- I divide it into days of the week for noting tasks or appointments that are attached to a day and time, and then have a list of “to do’s” that can get done any time that week. Another thing I like about the Bullet Journal is that you never have to go backwards- if I don’t complete a task one week, I “migrate” it to the next week’s to do list. If I find I keep writing the same task again, I can either decided if it’s even worth doing, or if I just want to get it done so I don’t have to write it again. And yes, I also really enjoy the ritual of sitting down on Sunday night, planning out the next week. It helps me gain some focus, and prepares me for what’s coming down the road. It takes me about 15 minutes.

Lists on Lists on Lists

planning a trip!

planning a trip!

Here’s the fun part: rapid logging. These are pages just in and around your journal (again, thanks to the index, you can just put them wherever!) where you can keep lists. I have lists of blog post ideas, things I want to get done in my office, vacation planning, and ideas for holiday gifting. Eventually, I might also include some goal tracking, or maybe shows I want to catch up on. See? This way I don’t have to actively remember, or keep emails flagged, or worry that my notes app might disappear into the ether.


habits- do I even lift??

Another type of tracking I’ve been playing with is habit tracking- you list the things you want to keep an eye on, and then fill in square on the date you completed it. This has made me realize that while I tell myself I lift 2-3 times a week, I actually lift like once usually. Honesty is hard sometimes, guys.

If you do some poking around online on Bullet Journaling, you will quickly find that yes! People are crazy here too! A lot of Pinterest-worthy Bullet Journals have beautiful calligraphy, layouts that look like a graphic designer created them, stickers, drawings, and pages of shit that I don’t need. The beauty of a Bullet Journal, right at it’s core, is that it can, and should be, incredibly simple. It is a place to put your brain, so when you find yourself with an hour of free time and loading up YouTube, you can say “wait, is there something I can check off my list?”. I’m still a newie bullet-er, but so far, it has really helped me get my shit together. And really, isn’t that what we’re all chasing after in this crazy life??

How do you plan your life? What should I plan next??

Oil Cleansers: don’t be scared

I feel like at some point, maybe in our teens?, we were all taught to be afraid of putting anything containing oil on our skin. As if somehow the rate of our revolting teenage skin could and would increase exponentially if we applied something that contained an oil. Even now you can find anything – foundation, moisturizer, sunscreen – with an oil free label slapped on it. The truth is not all oils are bad for all skin types. Take for instance, oil cleansers, they actually do a ton of good and are pretty boss on eye make up  (where my oily skin girls at? take note…. they can be amazing for your skin – oil removes oil!)  Particularly so going into the winter months when personally, my skin could use an extra bump of moisture, which they absolutely provide. Here are some of my favorites.

Julep “love your bare face” Hydrating Cleansing Oil

The thing about cleansing oils is they are most often all you need to use to remove make up and the dirt that has sneakily settled on your skin throughout the day. This does all of that, as well as contains a blend of antioxidant rich oils to protect your skin from that gross dirt, aka environmental pollution, aka free radicals. It is also lightweight and smells quite pleasant.


Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil

This cleansing oil smells amazing! Like apricots. I want to eat it. It is quite a bit heavier feeling when using it, but like all cleansing oils, rinses completely clean leaving behind no greasy residue – only soft and deeply hydrated skin. I seriously bought this for almost all of my girlfriends last Christmas.


Dermalogica PreCleanse Oil

You might notice more than a couple Dermalogica products pop up in my posts. That’s because I own a lot of them, have tried them all, and it is currently my go to line to use in my treatment room. This is the first product I use in all of my facial treatments and 9 times out of 10 I immediately hear “….. that smells sooooo good.”  And it really does.  It also feels super silky and smooth. Dermalogica calls this a precleanse because they promote a double cleansing regimen. I personally use this sometimes on it’s own, and sometimes followed by a second cleanser (you guys, I have a crap ton of cleansers)  Either way, it is a staple on my skincare shelf.


L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil

I added this to my most recent Sephora order because:  1) I was out of shower gel  2) All youtubers rave about it  3) I needed to add something else to get free shipping. Though I’ve been using it only for a week, I can tell you I already love it. I wouldn’t say it moisturizes my  skin to the point of not needing to apply a body moisturizer after my shower, but it does a pretty great job at getting the hydrate/moisturize process started. Also, whoa, a little goes a long way!


What do you love in an oil cleanser?  Have any suggestions for me to try (because clearly I need one more oil cleanser.)

As usual, I bought all of these with my own money.  And as crazy as it sounds, use all of them too.





Let’s talk about boobs, baby

October, 19 2010: I remember it like it was yesterday. Six years ago, I decided to accept my station in the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” and give up the padded bra charade. It was the day I purchased my first bralette and knew my lingerie game would never be the same.


Photo from Hanky Panky

Let’s take a moment and talk about boobs. My whole life I have been self-conscious of my chest size. I was a late bloomer—and I swear to you when I say—all of my friends growing up were well-endowed. All of them. I know more people who have had reduction surgeries than augmentations. At slumber parties, I would complain about my flatness, and they would lament the challenges their gifts presented. *sigh* I wished for such problems.

So I bought all the padded bras. The more padding the better. When Victoria’s Secret came out with the Bombshell Bra, promising to add two cup sizes, I thought my prayers had been answered. But the problem wasn’t’ just that wearing padded bras isn’t particularly comfortable or required more drawer space—wearing them feels like I was living a lie—to myself and others.

And then came that glorious October day.  I was in New Orleans for work and it was the last day of a fairly stressful 10 day trip. I had some free time and was walking Magazine Street, alone and feeling sorry for myself. I popped into a super funky boutique and saw the cutest bra/panty duo in leopard print. It was from Betsy Johnson Intimates and came with boy shorts…and a bralette. It was a little pricey, but something about that set spoke to me. And after days on the road—I felt like I deserved a treat—so it was mine. I brought it back to my hotel room and decided to wear it to dinner that night. Taking off the pounds of foam and replacing it with two triangles of cotton—not even any underwire or lining—felt like I was removing years of the shame I had of my body. Perhaps it was exhaustion from the trip or maybe the mystical magic of NOLA, but I felt amazing. I haven’t bought a padded, push up bra since.

In full disclosure—I do still have some slightly padded or thickly lined bras that I’ll wear—especially under sweaters or t-shirts that I feel just need a little something extra. But for the most part, my underwear drawer is filled with bralettes in a variety of colors, fits and fabrics. I generally steer away from ones that feel too much like wearing sports bras. I purchased the popular Calvin Klein set, but I don’t wear it that often.  I feel like it gives a uni-boob effect and it’s a little too heavy.


This set is cute, just not quite right for me.

Mostly I gravitate toward triangle shaped cups—but I have a number of favorites in a range of styles. Since I tend to keep items in my collection until they are hanging by threads, many of my top options aren’t available anymore. In those cases, I have found some comparable alternatives to I’m excited to share with you.

Hanky Panky

My favorite bralettes are definitely by the brand Hanky Panky.

These lace numbers are available in a variety of colors, sizes and designs that they switch up seasonally. Right now, they have a Rocky Horror Picture Show series.  My favorite was from the LAMB collaboration, but I have quite a few from their signature collection. The triangle bralette is my general go-to, but if you like a little more support, the Valerie has more lining. They can be pricey, so check out their sale section for more affordable options. I haven’t tried this mesh one, but I’m seriously considering it.


American Apparel

Speaking of mesh bralettes, when American Apparel was on State Street, I found one of my favorite sets: a pink mesh number. And while you can’t walk down and try it on, it’s still available to order online. The Nylon Spandex Micro-Mesh Triangle Cross-Back Bra (that’s a mouthful!) is extremely comfortable, affordable and very sturdy. It’s available in a range of colors, but I would recommend sizing up. I’m generally a medium, but I got this one in a large.


Target is another excellent option for affordable pieces. I recently grabbed this mesh/cotton one, which has become a new favorite, and this long line lace crop number. They both wear comfortably and have held up fine under numerous washing. (and no–I never use a lingerie bag–even though I know I should.)


At $12.99, this is an incredibly affordable lace bralette option.

The fancy ones

If you are in the market for something a little fancier—and aren’t afraid to throw down some cash—Cosabella has beautiful stuff. I’m especially fond of their front closure bralette which is a unicorn in the bralette world.


Only Hearts, Clo Intimo and Eberjey have some unique items that are incredibly styled. I watch these items for when they go on sale through Shopbop.

The moral of the story: whether you’re an AA or a DD cup—it’s extremely freeing to embrace the body you have—and realize the grass is always greener in all things, including boob size. For everyone like me that wishes she had a little extra, there’s someone who wishes she had a little less. And while I still suffer from a pretty serious case of tit envy, finding undergarments that make me feel good have gone a long way in helping me on that seemingly lifelong journey toward self-acceptance.

Who knew dumping the pads would have such a big impact on me? Do you have bras that you love? Care to share your boob stories? Please share them in the comments section below.

My lingerie drawer is filled with items I purchased with my own money. All photos are courtesy of the brands’ websites.

How To Halloween Like a Boss Lady

You guys!! It’s Halloween time!!! My house is a-buzz with craft supplies and there is a steady stream of Amazon boxes trickling in with bits and pieces of my costume. At any given time, there is a spooky movie on TV. You can buy snack foods in the shapes of skulls and bats. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

When it comes to costumes, I like to make my own, but not in an intense cosplay way. Just like, the level below that. Details are important, but so is the ability to do some things “ok enough”. Here are some of my best tips for making your Halloween costume a hit!

Do Some Research

susanWhen planning out my costume, I usually obsess over my subject for a good week or so, then go to every thrift store, discount store, fast-fashion store, and craft store in town and just stalk until I can formulate my plan of attack. Is this intense?? Probably. But I firmly believe that to sell a great costume, you have to get some of the details nailed down. I also really believe, though, that you can get away with picking one or two key things to focus on, then edit the rest of your look to be “in the vein of” your character. You don’t have to create an exact replica. For example, in my Madonna Desperately Seeking Susan look, the jacket was the thing to focus on. I found a sparkly cardigan at a discount store, then used felt, duct tape, and a sharpie to complete the design. It worked out so great! The rest of my costume could be “pretty close to stuff Madonna wore in 1985”- a lace tank top, a bunch of necklaces and bangles, and some loose black pants. For Gracie Law, I spent the time on her head piece, which was made out of a fun foam duck hat and Christmas floral decorations, then didn’t spend as much time on the dress.


I also love researching and recreating makeup looks, and between YouTube and the ability to Google anything, you can find pretty specific resources. Big Trouble in Little China was super fun to re-create, and gave me an excuse (not that I need one) to watch the movie. One year, a group of us went as the Robert Palmer girls, and I found a tutorial by the actual makeup artist who did the look. Creating a Sasha Fierce eye look (see Bey below) was tons of fun. And speaking of makeup…

Use Decent Makeup

geneWeather you’re creating a beauty look or something more sinister, don’t rely on the crappy Halloween makeup kits you see- they will only leaving you feeling streaky, pilly, and sad. Now, I’m not telling you to pony up for a Flash Palette, but spending a few minutes taking inventory of your own stash (you might be surprised!), then supplementing in the Nyx aisle, may just pay off. I’ve already told you about how great their Primal Pressed Pigments are, and I also have to give a shout-out to their Jumbo Eye Pencils. If you are doing a look that requires a full white face, scribble on their pencil in Milk, blend it out, set it with either white shadow or colorless setting powder, and you will be ready to rock! Here’s three other pro-tips for you: if you are doing a black and white look, do the white parts first and leave the black parts open- this way you won’t get grey. Tip 2: use a primer! This will keep your face feeling like a face, plus keep your makeup from squiggling all over the place. Tip 3: Set any cream formula with powder!!!! Either a similar color eye shadow or translucent powder will work.

Dance Tights

beywonderwoman2014Between pantless pop stars and super heroes, there are a lot of reasons to be pantsless on Halloween. There are also a lot of reasons that this is impractical. Let me let you in on a secret known by dancers, cheerleaders, and Hooters girls alike: DANCE TIGHTS. These are not your typical pantyhose: they are more like pants. Shiny pants that make your legs look like they are worth insuring for a million dollars. Plus, they are sheer all the way up, so you don’t get those “here is where the control top part starts” lines on your legs. Also! They keep you toasty warm on a chilling October evening.

My most important tip, though, is to just have fun!! Use Halloween as an excuse to play with a new look and really exaggerate it. Dance a ton, be safe, and take lots of pictures. Then share them with us!

What are you going to dress up as this year? Do you have any tips and tricks (and treats) to share?? Tell us below! xo

Smells like fall spirit

Days are sadly shortening. Jackets are coming out of the closets. Scarves are swinging around our necks. And our fall/winter fragrances are moving to the front of the vanity. These are our go-to scents that signal colder days are here.


From September through April is the cold, dark half of the year- a time I refer to as “candy season”. See, this is the time of year when all the major candy holidays fall: Twix ghosts kick it off, then it rolls right into some Snickers Santas, followed by candy hearts, and finally winding down with Cadbury Mini Eggs. Maybe it’s because of this that I gravitate toward sweeter, spicier, darker scents once the days get shorter. I should note that I’m really picky about scents- I do poorly with heavily perfumed or fragranced things, as they either make me crazy sneezy or give me a headache. I tend to go for more subtle scents, preferably made from natural stuff. So like, B&BW lotions and sprays that are like I LOVE CAKE BATTER DON’T YOU LOVE CAKE BATTER YOU CAN SMELL ME FROM A BLOCK AWAY I SMELL LIKE CAKE BATTER aren’t really my bag. Here’s what I do smell like these days:

J.R. Watkins Coconut Milk & Honey Body Oil Mist

Winter skin is a thing that vexes me, but an equally terrible feeling is putting on lotion after a toasty shower only to stand there waiting in a cold bathroom for it to absorb before you put your clothes on. For days when I can’t even with lotion, this is a great solution- it’s a spray on light body oil that absorbs quickly and leaves a pleasant, gentle scent behind. I know, you’re like “Jess, coconut is clearly a summer smell!”. Maybe it’s the honey, but this doesn’t smell like suntan lotion to me at all. More like… I’ve been cozied up baking cookies all day. This is nicely understated and easy to wear every day.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black

I hate perfume samples. I hate them in magazines, I hate them in subscription boxes, I hate them showing up in the bottom of my Sephora bag. So I can’t explain why, when this sample showed up in a bag from a VIB event, I decided to smell it. Then spray it on my arm. YOU GUYS. I can’t stop smelling myself. This is a beautiful fragrance, brought to you by none other than the Olsen Twins. It’s main notes are violet, sandalwood, and vanilla, and it is described as “sensual, mysterious, and warm”. I made it through about half the sample vial before ponying up for the full size- this is GORGEOUS and I feel like a lady (but still a cool lady with tattoos) wearing it.



I don’t really change my fragrances with the seasons a ton.  Having said that, I do have some very obvious spring/summer scents and some very obvious fall/winter scents, the latter of which I gravitate toward throughout the year.  My tastes tend to go for the earthy, musky, woodsy, vanilla, smells. Sandalwood in particular is my absolute favorite. Santal 33 by Le Labo is my go to almost always, but after dropping a brand new bottle last fall and having it break all over the floor (uuuhhhh, what a waste), rather than shelling out another 90 bucks right away I began using my straight up sandalwood singular note from Aveda. While I will eventually re purchase my beloved Santal 33, this does quite a nice job as a less expensive place holder.  Now I should mention that they have since discontinued this singular note.  Everything I like eventually gets discontinued.  Which brings me to my next fragrance, that is also discontinued, but I’m hoarding every last drop!  Lush’s 25:43.  I first smelled this on Lyn during our fall trip to NYC in August of 2012.  I immediately went to the nearest Lush store and purchased it (and apparently should have purchased all of it.)  This was a really special fragrance. It’s half citrus with notes of lime and lemongrass, and then mellowed down a bit with vanilla, tonka bean and ylang ylang.  It is SO GOOD. It is definitely not just another citrus scent, but something altogether more complex.  I will shed a tear when it is finally gone…. and it is getting close. In review, clearly I am in the market for a new fragrance.


Perhaps this is why we get along so well–the three of us smell the same!  We definitely have a similar theme when it comes to our fragrances. Sadly, my bottle of Lush’s 25:43 is just a distant memory. But thanks to a visit to Las Vegas with Pamela, I am also a Le Labo convert. Do yourself a favor and get this Le Labo Discovery Set. For $30–you get samples of their most popular scents–and they are great alone AND layered. And like Jess–I’ve been enjoying the Nirvana Black for a few seasons. (but the Nirvana White is nasty. i haven’t tried the new Nirvana Bourbon or Nirvana Rose that recently launched…)

Since I also tend to gravitate to a warmer, musky, woodsy scents–when the days get shorter–I immediately reach for my old friend, Michael Kors, Michael for Women. I ended up grabbing a rollerball of this one when it first launched and have never been without a full size bottle on my dresser ever since. I even have the lotion for when I’m feeling fancy. It is definitely a heavy scent, but I love it. It is described as “a rich floral scent featuring notes of tuberose, freesia, gardenia, and white lily followed by sophisticated and sensual base notes of sandalwood, suede, amber, and musk.” I actually don’t find it particularly floral, but definitely heavy with the base notes. There are a ton of other Michael Kors fragrances in his line–I like the Sexy Amber for summer–but I find nothing beats the original.

Last year, Sephora had one of their 4x points on fragrances promotions. I used it as an excuse to check out a few new options and ended up grabbing this Bvlgari, Omnia Crystalline Travel Spray. It’s an interesting scent which I find kinda classy and grown-up smelling. It’s technically listed as a mix of “Bamboo, Nashi, Lotus Flower, Balsa Wood.” My daily routine ends with spritzing on a fragrance before I leave for the day, but it still takes me an Eternity to work through a full bottle (see what I did there.) I wore this one regularly in the winter and I still have half of the bottle left. Even though it’s a pretty small size–for $25–I think it’s worth it. And now that I’m back to wearing tights (i’m seriously wearing tights today and i’m very crabby about it) it’s nice to rediscover this new favorite.

Do you switch up your scents seasonally? What scents do you gravitate toward when the weather gets colder? Pamela’s in the market for something new and needs your suggestions–so leave them in the comments below!

(We procured these scents ourselves like the fancy women we love and represent.)

My Current Favorite Dry Shampoos

I hate washing my hair.  Actually, no.  I hate drying my hair, therefore I hate washing my hair. So I usually try to get a whole week out of one washing.  Naturally, dry shampoo is my best friend.  And I have tried lots and lots.  Here are my three current favorites.

Moroccan Oil Dry Shampoo

I have dark hair, which means dry shampoos often look really white and powdery in my hair. I use this in the dark tones formula. It’s not extremely pigmented, but is somehow just enough to blend quickly and completely. It also doesn’t have the grit to it as some other dry shampoos have, so my hair feels relatively soft and able to be styled even after a couple of applications.


Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

My go-to cheap dry shampoo is usually Batiste, but I’ve not found that I love any of the scents it comes in.  On a whim, I picked up the Not Your Mother’s in a travel size before a trip last year, and have to say that this beats out Batiste for me.  It works well, is not strong or offensively perfumed, it leaves less of a white cast and it’s cheap….. even a little lower priced than Batiste!  *side note – While writing this I did notice that Batiste now has a “bare” unscented formula, so I’m sure I’ll find it’s worth trying that at some point.


Aveda Shampure Dry Shampoo

Aveda is all plant essences and calming aromas, and while this is somewhat tedious and annoying to apply due to the non-aerosol eco-friendly packaging, it does work really well and smells sooo good. You have to squeeze the bottle to poof the product into your roots, and that takes some time, but I can deal with it on a day that I’m not in a rush.  It doesn’t leave much of a white cast, if any and it’s pretty travel friendly as it’s not an aerosol or liquid.


Do you have a favorite dry shampoo?  I’d love to try it. Let us know.

*I purchase my dry shampoo with my own hard earned money. 

First Impressions: Samples I Tried in Japan

One of the things I love about traveling is having an excuse to use some of the many, many product samples I have accumulated. Between subscription boxes, sample sets, Sephora gifts and those alluring mini-sized items by the checkout at Ulta, I can get overwhelmed by products looking for their big break into my routine.


My vanity in Tokyo filled with samples to try.

I just got back from a week in Japan–the jet lag fog is finally starting to lift!–and I can start to formulate thoughts again, let alone opinions on some of the products I tried. Unpacking my clear toiletries bag–because you know I was gone for a week and only needed a carry-on–I’ve got some first impressions on some of the samples I tried while traveling in Japan.


For real–I pack light! One week of travel and I only needed a work bag and a carry-on–which I had to check on the way home due to some SK-II purchases

Things I liked and will spring for the full size:

Milk Makeup Highlighter: I received this sample in my Birchbox and I love it! It was the only highlighter I packed and the only one that I needed. It’s completely foolproof and takes zero time or effort to apply. I’m curious to try the Glossier one that Pam recommends because I think it’s similar, but this one was also great. Since Milk Makeup is a new launch, there are TONS of sample sets out there (like this one or this one) where you can try the highlighter along with other items in their line for a reasonable price. But at $23, I think the full size is worth it.

Skyn Iceland, The ANTIDOTE Cooling Daily Lotion and Icelandic Relief Eye Pen: I picked up the Skin Hangover Emergency Relief Kit after a couple of readers recommended some of their products to me. I’m already a fan of the under eye masks, so I was excited to give other items a go. Both products do what they say–provide a cooling sensation to your skin and take down redness and puffiness. These products won’t be every day items for me, but I can see a lot of opportunities where I will need their services!  At $25, this kit is a great value with big samples and fun way to try a bunch of their products. Plus–Ulta is currently offering a free gift with purchase on any items in the line.

Caudalie, Beauty Elixer: Oh–this stuff is divine! It made me feel super fancy and the mist is perfection. The glass bottle is heavy and feels important. The scent might not be for everyone as it’s very distinct, but I loved it. I could definitely see using this as my main setting spray, especially in the winter. At $18 for a full-size–it’s a splurge–but why not start the day a little classy!

Things I liked but probably won’t repurchase:

Clinque Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm and Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara – Jumbo Jet: Right before I left, I got the 500 point Sephora reward pack called Clinique Balm to Bombsell. I had been curious about all these products, so it was a great perk.


First the mascara–it’s got a really thick wand and definitely made my lashes look thicker and had a very black pigment. I didn’t find it to be too messy to apply and it did last all day without fall out. But at $17.50 for a full size, there are too many drugstore mascaras I prefer to warrant that price.

The Cleansing Balm was used exactly as its name suggests–to take the day off. My skin was so wonky when I was gone–I was wearing full coverage, full face makeup everyday–and it did a great job removing it. You also don’t need much product, even for waterproof mascara. The downside is you have to follow it up with a regular cleanser which at the end of a long day is an extra step too many. At home, I’m working through the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser–thanks, Pam!–and Meaningful Beauty Skin Softening Cleanser and both remove my makeup in one-step. But if you’re in the market for a solid makeup remover, I would give this one a try. The 500 point perk is still available and Sephora also has this sample pack you could try for pretty cheap.

No thanks 

Soap & Glory, Clean on Me: I brought this as my shower gel and really didn’t like it. It boasts it’s “Original Pink Fragrance combines fresh bergamot, mandarin, rose, jasmine, peach, strawberry, and soft musk & amber base notes” but I honestly couldn’t smell anything–yet it didn’t smell unscented–it was just odd and off-putting. I also didn’t find it moisturizing and used it both with my hands as recommended and on a wash cloth and didn’t like how it applied either way.

Klorane, Conditioner with Quinine and B Vitamins: What is this? The consistency is really watery which is odd for a conditioner and after I rinsed my hair, it feels less conditioned than after I shampooed. I hated this so much, I switched to the hotel conditioner which I didn’t love either, but was definitely better than this nonsense.

There are several other products I’m still checking out and many more waiting for a turn. What samples have you been working through? Anything we should avoid or consider taking out for a spin? Let us know in the comments below!

(These products were either purchased impulsively at check out by me, received in subscription boxes or obtained because I spend too much money at Sephora. But I’m happy to try and review products I am sent…)