virtue labs hair care with real keratin0

i don’t know how this post has remained unwritten until now. i have been using these hair products religiously and exclusively since last march.


ever since i had my daughter, i have been struggling with thinning hair. now that she is 3.5 the thickness is mostly back, but there is a persisting symptom at the very front middle of my part, where a tuft of short hair sticks straight up no matter what i do to train it to lay down. it’s not cute.

and i have chalked it up to some strange pattern of regrowth that had to do with all of the hair fallout that i experienced after giving birth – but it turns out i was wrong about that.

after hearing jen wax poetic about virtue on fat mascara, i had to give them a try. previously i had been undyingly loyal to my living proof full collection, but this just goes to show that you never know when something better is out there lurking in the shadows.

it turns out that the virtue smooth is the hair nirvana that i have been seeking. after one use of the shampoo, conditioner and 6-in-1 styler, my hair was in the best shape that it has ever been in. no more fried ends, no more dryness or static, and no more chicken little cowlick in the front – and it has stayed in that good place ever since.

these products are pricey but #worthIt. the addition of keratin is resurfacing my hair and the results are immediately apparent. this is the best hair that i have ever had – it’s no wonder the collections are being lauded by beauty editors everywhere.

the goods come in full size ($36 – $40 each) and travel-size minis (PRAISE!) for your testing pleasure ($15 – $20).

ps –

i’d be remiss not to share that i bought these very reasonably price loafers while on work travel this week and for a cheap shoe, they are insanely comfortable! i’ve been wearing them nonstop and i kind love the festive february vibe that they are giving me in concert with this tee.

pre-travel, i also scooped up this carry on bag in extra large and it has changed my life. it zips closed and i don’t care if it gets caught in the security conveyer belt because, let me tell ya, that happens and it ain’t real pretty. (plus i’m taking it to be monogrammed in an electric rose thread this weekend.)

oh! before i go, a few recent beauty wins with reviews coming soon:

  • yet another lip oil
  • covergirl brow pomade (you will never spend $ on benefit everrrr again)
  • a new and extra luminous take on glotion from charlotte tilbury
  • this luxe lip scrub is haunting me…

finally, this is topping my wish list at the moment and this intrigues! has anyone tried?

happy weekend!

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these days, i can’t stop touching my face. it’s smooth and bump-free, even on my forehead where, even if my skin looks clear, i always have clogged pores and clusters of teeny tiny breakouts. now, there’s a softness where there used to be scarring and rough patches – it’s just all going really well.

this is pretty monumental for me, because i have never been classified as having “good skin.” thankfully, if 8 years of blogging and all of the experiences that come along with have taught me anything, it’s how to (for the most part) take care of my sensitive and acne-prone face.

after years of suffering and painful allergic reactions, my instincts when it comes to choosing products are finally spot on. i know the types of things that will actually improve my skin and the types of things that i shouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. (i also know the exact products i will turn to if my daughter has so much as a zit when she gets older.)

so what’s got my skin in such a good place?

i know i briefly mentioned it in november, but i cannot say enough positive things about this moisturizer. i didn’t even have to it to try to know that my skin would love it, no question. and after 4 months of regular use, it’s soothing my dry, stressed skin and has eliminated all redness. this is the most even, calm and comfortable that my skin tone has ever been. i urge everyone to try this magic cream.

then there’s this toner, which i got for christmas and it is really changing the game right now. this is what has eliminated all traces of breakouts and scarring. it’s a refreshing follow up to my micellar in the PM and the perfect pre-curser to my moisturizer in the AM. it does not leave my face feeling tight and has erased all inflammation. it’s also less than half the price of my prior favorite and more effective, at that.

so now that the base is solid, i actually need something to brighten up this even tone. (is the grass not always greener?! sigh.) i picked this blush up in orchid, on major sale and ooh la la do i really like it. in fact, i like it more than this and this, two old (and much more expensive) liquid loves. i squeeze out the teeniest bit and sweep it straight onto this brush, then sculpt away. it’s sheer and gorgeous, plus it lasts all day long. a major hidden gem!

ps – a couple of non-beauty snags from the past week:

these coated skinnies at this insane price! why have i never tried LOFT denim? the fit is perfection.

these studs which you can still get for free. (i’m obsessed with her whole collection.)

this travel cosmetic bag – can’t wait to take it on the road next week.

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NYX #thisiseverything lip oil2

as a proud member of team #COVERGIRLmade, i really hate it when the competition wins me over. like, really hate it – but sometimes they put something out there that’s so good, that i just can’t ignore it.

NYX #thisiseverything lip oil has been calling to me for awhile, so when i saw it on display last week, i coughed up the very agreeable $6.

i tried it first on dry, naked lips and i think i actually said “wow” out loud after applying. it hydrates and adds shine while being so unbelievably moisturizing. i could not stop rubbing my lips together. bonus points for there being virtually no taste or smell and zero tacky feel.

the next morning, i tried it as a lip primer, slicking it on while i got ready and then blotting it off before applying color. i loved it! it delivers weirdly long-lasting hydration, even after the actual product fades from my lips.

and it works on top of lip color, too – especially the super drying ones that are favorites in the beauty community like this one and this one. a few dots of NYX #thisiseverything lip oil on parched, pigmented lips turns these somewhat-painful products into something really gorgeous and easy to wear. (just note that while it doesn’t compromise their staying power, they do tend to transfer a bit more than usual with the addition of the oil.)

so, quick recap: NYX has basically created a cosmetic swiss army knife with this one, and while i’m really cranky about them churning out another winner, i’m nothing if not brutally honest and fair in my beauty musings. (and i’m also halfway out the door to buy my second tube!)

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crop antioxidant eye serum0

the anxiety over my favorite and basically irreplaceable (due to its insane price – ugh) eye serum running out is real.

i have been hunting diligently for its replacement, falling first for this (still a contender, but not quite the brightening and smoothing effect that i need – aaand my husband stole it), then for this (also still a contender, strong in the brightening, less strong in the tightening). somewhere in my travels i tried this (didn’t love it – except the texture is very cool)…but none of them can even hold a candle to my go-to.

then a week ago, i read this review of a very reasonably priced serum that i had never heard of. skip ahead approximately 35 seconds and i made quite possibly the quickest amazon purchase ever in life, because compelling beauty writing will always get me to pull the trigger. always.

crop natural antioxidant eye serum arrived in a speedy 48 hours (thank you prime goddesses) and i’ve been getting acquainted ever since.

my take?

it’s VERY good. like the byrdie writer says in her review, this is less serum and more gel. it feels cold and delicious going on, then it kind of tightens and freezes everything into place. if i touch the skin under my eyes once it’s settled in, it feels like glass – totally smooth and crease free. then i sleep on it and wake up with eyes that are dark circle-less without any puff. none!

for me, the true test for a PM eye treatment of any kind is to see if i can go sans concealer the next day and not look dead. (i actually hate the way concealer looks under my eyes. it’s never natural and i would rather zap lines and darkness at the source than cover them up, hence my relentless search for eye cream…bet you’re glad we’re all caught up on that.) so i’m very happy to report that the mornings after applying crop, i can get away with just my daytime eye cream and foundation. big win.

i’m still not ready to toss my tata harper, but when something this good comes along at one tenth of the price, it’s impossible not to give it some love.

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five non-beauty obsessions0


little by little

i swear, i’m going to get back to regular writing if it kills me. (hopefully it doesn’t.)

i’m obsessed with the two women behind this podcast. they are real, warm and sweet – the audio version of your high school track sweatshirt and a mug of hot tea on your mom’s couch. i love listening to them and they wrap every show with obsessions. it’s a tiny peek into their personal world and some of the big or small, tangible and non-tangible things making them happy.

so, in true girl next door style, here are a few of my current obsessions:

this coat, snagged on amazon for $60 (still a steal at its current price). i needed a puffer for these negative degree walks to work (brr!) and it being my first winter in NYC, i did not want to obsess over style (that can come next season) – just function and warmth. this thing nailed it.

bombas socks. our creative agency gifted me a boxed set for the holidays and holy cozy comfort. these are supportive (if you can say that about a sock), the ultimate boot or lounge sock and they boast a seamless toe – total game changer. my husband has already stolen two pairs (yes we have almost the same size feet #soweird) and i just forced him to place his own order – because back off buddy, the socks are mine.

my girlfriend leggings. these are kind of old news, but i got a pair sent to me during the promo phase where they only charged you shipping and i am ready to order my second pair. they are made of recycled bottles (amazing) and have held up far better than any other pair i’ve ever owned. they are high rise, slimming, fit like a glove and do not pill or stretch out. i mean…lulu-who?

this coffee mug, discovered here. everyday, times two, i bus, i train, i walk – it’s a journey and i need hot coffee to get me through, plus a spill-proof situation (because, mass transit is unpredictable at best) that i can throw in my new favorite tote and go without worry. i’m going to grab a second one soon – and that lavender shade is calling my name.

springy, statement earrings. they make such a powerful pop and instantly dress up the most minimal black top. you can also snag them in a smaller size if dramatic florals aren’t your daily go-to.

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the best of november beauty0

hi strangers. i don’t know how, but it’s freakin’ december.

life continues to spiral and swirl in NYC – in all of the best ways, promise. it’s just that everything seemed to get bigger, faster and more all at the same time. it’s a lot, but it’s GOOD and we’re adjusting.

i still collect, hoard and test beauty products at an above average rate, so nothing’s changed there. one day i hope to pop up here more often than monthly, but for now here’s the best of the best of what i found in november:

  • this hydator was in the beauty bag of a colleague (we were comparing eclectic brand mixes within our own bags – as you do) and once i read the ingredient list, i knew i had to have it. when i tell you this stuff LOVES my combination skin – it’s purely insane how the superfoods have tightened things up and smoothed them out. my face is deliciously plump and hydrated without getting greasy at all. if i could bathe in it, i probably would.

  • i’ve been having a bit of a schizophrenic moment when it comes to blush – i’m never satisfied and i always want that coveted winter flush. something that makes me look healthy and young, like i have a touch of a fever or have had a few too many drinks. (does that happen to anyone else?) this guy in the mini size and a stippling brush (i love this one) are delivering that dream and then some. the resulting pink is perfection – the vibrant coral red and muted champagne really come together for the ultimate tinted cheek.

(ps – can we just praise beauty in miniature size? it’s the literal best. maybe it’s me, but i’m on to the next thing before i’ve made a visible dent in most things, so the more tiny products, the merrier!)

  • i have some sort of adult-onset lip sensitivities going on and i’ve had more recent flare ups then i care to recount. i still love a bold, matte, lip (due to aforementioned sensitivities, i have sworn allegiance to this formula until the end of time – the bullet is the perfect size to give me a sculpted lip without a liner or mirror) – but that requires a flake-free canvas. this new lip mask kicks my old lip mask to the curb. my lips are smooth and soft, and i swear my lines are dissipating. thank you, thank you clinique gods and goddesses!

  • i love an intense, bold, lacquered lash – but my sparse little natural lashes can barely handle that kind of formula. it’s like they crumble under the weight or something. the formula here is very, very goopy and you must kind of expertly craft and build your lash look, using a lot of patience and a lash comb to clear out the clumps. the formula holds all day long, though – including on bottom lashes which never (EVER) happens for these watery eyes.

for extra credit, i recently replaced my original set of mini slants (purchased in 2001 – those things have some long legs!), purchased a second bottle of this glittery shade and treated myself to this (which i am admittedly still making friends with – she is BOLD).

next up – christmas wishes!

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it’s been waitin’ for you0

oh, hello. hi – remember me?

did you think i forgot about you?

i have been thinking about this blog nonstop since i last popped in to share a beauty obsession (3 months ago – yowza). while i’ve been absent, my family and i have relocated from VA to NY – a bold and exciting move, for sure. all in the name of beauty.

it has been an insane whirlwind, but we are finally moved in and starting to get settled. i’m commuting daily into an NYC office (er, desk) in the empire state building and continuing to pursue this crazy beauty dream.

and when i’m walking through grand central or down park avenue to work, i think about this little blog. i think about what i should say to you guys after such a long time away, how i can ever thank you for coming to read my wandering thoughts on beauty, for telling your friends, your sisters, your moms to come read them, too.

so rather than dive into a long and ever-growing list of products to share (that’s coming, too – don’t you worry), i will start with thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart and a promise to be back to writing very soon!

but, in the meantime:

i can’t stop thinking about this moisturizer

i’m in love with this simple little lip in cherry

two style bloggers killing it for me lately: jen and gaby

one of my work projects launched (finally!)

this shampoo is topping my wishlist

officially lusting everything in salma’s routine

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caudalie vine[activ] 3-in-1 moisturizer0


ever since clearing up my skin from a heartbreaking stint with acne a couple of years ago (thank you so super much for that treat, postpartum hormones), when i now find something that works for my face, i tend to stick with it.

during the great skincare cleanup phase of early 2016, i discovered this caudalie moisturizer and oh man, has it brought me some happy pores. i have repurchased more than once and i scoop up the mini version every single time that it’s available with my sephora points. it has been a long-term love affair for sure.

but now that things have been clear for awhile (knock on all of the wood) i have started to want a bit more from my hydrator – some anti-aging power and protection would be extra nice. i returned to the caudalie family (because if it ain’t broke) and was delighted to discover the new-ish vine[activ] line. the moisturizer was especially intriguing and i loved the way it felt on the back of my hand during an in-aisle test. it’s lightweight but glides on super smooth, soaking right in. it feels really refreshing, smells incredible, and after a longer test, i found that it did not irritate my sensitive skin in the slightest.

well, no surprise, now it’s mine and we’re a few weeks into daily use. my skin LOVES this moisturizer. it has improved my complexion even further (my no-makeup days have me doing a major double take in the mirror), faded my acne scars due to some brightening ingredients and it fights the effects of aging through polution all day long as i wear it. it also has the oh-so-slightest mattifying effect that grips on to my go-to foundation without the need for a primer.

my only hope is that caudalie adds SPF because then it would be straight up holy grail status – but they have gotten it pretty darn close to perfect (at least for me) and that’s worth far more than the $44 investment.

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laura geller diamond dust baked gelato swirl illuminator0

so highlighter pretty much ranks up there with liquid eyeliner for me. i never know if i’m doing it right and i always kind of feel like a poser. i can very much appreciate its purpose and all of the glowy gals on instagram make it look super inviting, but in my day to day? it has mostly felt silly.

last month, i attended a big beauty expo in florida and everyone there was walking around with this KILLER HIGHLIGHT. i stopped several girls to see what was happening and they directed me to the laura geller booth where i was plopped down by an adorable MUA and dusted in diamonds. (not really, but the highlighter she used is called diamond dust and i’m going to call that pretty spot on.)

what happened next was something like –

me (looking in the mirror): “whooooa…what is that?”
adorable makeup artist: “it’s your color.” wink

(it was apparently everyone and their mother’s color at this expo, but whatever. it looked hot and i wanted it.)

fast forward to my return from orlando, prompt email to my sweetest-ever friends at laura geller and a happy dance when diamond dust arrived on my front steps. i have been swirling my favorite brush into this goodness daily and applying it in a reverse c, grazing my brow bones and the highest, most outer parts of my cheeks.

the sheen it gives off isn’t yellow or gold which i think is what makes this so universally flattering and not-at-all scary to wear. it’s a translucent glow that shifts only very very slightly pink from its white base. and when i tell you that people stop me in the street to ask what this highlight is, i am not exaggerating. i have had coworkers, waitresses and perfect strangers tap me for details because it’s that good.

sneaky laura geller has made this limited edition so i would scoop it up quickly or run into ULTA to give it a test and let the compliments pour in. (seriously. don’t say i didn’t warn you!)

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christophe robin cleansing purifying scrub with sea salt0

real talk: sometimes life gets in the way and you forget to wash your hair for a week. (real’er talk: these days, life sounds something like “mommy, what color is my big girl bed going to be?” or “mommy, can we bring cinderelly’s castle to the new house?” or best, “mommy, is there water to drink in new york?” #moving) and while i am all for praising dry shampoo and my ever sharpening top knot skills, sometimes your scalp reacts unfavorably to not being cleansed.

lately, when i need to hit the reset button on what’s happening at the top of my head, i reach for this scrub by christophe robin. it’s kind of the coolest. the consistency is super thick (think paste, or peanut butter) and is basically a detox shampoo all mixed up with chunky sea salt crystals to exfoliate. i grab a tablespoon full and distribute it from my hair line to the base of my skull and it feels so-o amazing.

the product removes buildup and zaps oil for when you’ve taken your hair one day past its due. the results are super fluffy, boosted roots with hair that’s lightweight and full of volume. somehow the salt is not at all drying, but, depending on your hair type, i would recommend following up with detangling conditioner. i steal my daughter’s because 1) her spirals snag like no other and 2) it smells like a fruit smoothie. you could also work it through with something like this for extra credit. to finish, style with your favorite air-dry product and take your soothed, balanced, happy scalp out on the town.

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