NYX retail store2

nyx haul the glossarie

it’s no secret that beauty is a very personal thing – but i think that we can all agree, finding amazing quality makeup at a great price point is worth its weight in gold.

for many, NYX is leading the way in this area. the brand is bursting at the seams with amazing quality products (somehow getting even better with time!) at crazy price points that are always right within my budget.

fans of the brand will already know that actual NYX stores are popping up around the country. i recently visitedthe location in tyson’s corner (VA) – and to say that i’m impressed would be an understatement.

the store carries over 2,000 NYX products – including many things that i didn’t even know existed. it’s a beauty lover’s wonderland that has to be seen to be believed. after i regained my balance from nearly passing out over product euphoria, a quick chat with the head trainer for the brand told me that NYX caters to the self-taught makeup artist, especially those of us who have learned our makeup mastery from YouTube and bloggers.

my favorite space in the store was the beauty bar. the DIY station is stocked with an oversized mirror and iPads where guests can watch tutorials and easily replicate looks with any of the NYX products available. genius! i loved having the freedom to play, but still know that the super sweet employees are standing by to lend a helping hand in any way that they can.

while in store, i took advantage of the opportunity to try some products and learn a new trick. i have been trying to master the contoured cheek, so i perched at the beauty bar and away we went. i loved the NYX employee’s educational mindset. she walked me through one side and then handed off all of the tools so that i could try the technique on my own. the palette she used did amazing things for my cheekbones!

visiting the NYX store and meeting the team was such a pleasure. (don’t you love when one of your favorite brands is run by amazing people?!) keep your eye out for NYX stores opening up all over the country and please come back to tell us about any new product discoveries! our NYX wish list is ever growing…

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Posted in dc pretty | Tagged | 2 Comments

why i shampoo twice2

jennifer aniston hair meme

(story of my life ^ ^ ^)

i always scoffed at the “repeat” portion of my shampoo instructions, but it turns out that those manufacturers are really onto something. i have gone through the last 34 years believing that one round of lathering and rinsing is enough, but by double washing my hair, i can actually get my hard working blowout to last much longer. since discovering this trick, my new reality is monday and friday washings only and 30 more minutes of sleep 3x per week.

my hair stylist had once advised me that double washing my hair was actually better than washing it more often (i.e. every day or every other day) because more washes mean more heat styling. in my monday morning shower, i shampoo twice (lather-rinse-lather-rinse-conditioner-rinse), finding that my hair lathers up so much more the second time around.

out of the shower, i don’t notice anything different when it comes to styling, so on day 1, it’s business as usual. on day 2, my hair is looking GOOD, with more volume than ever before and no need for dry shampoo. on day 3, i usually find that it starts to get greasy in the afternoon, so i preempt that mid-day disappointment with a dose of dry shampoo in the morning. on day 4, things are still in really good shape. i could probably get away with wearing it down, but i usually opt for a voluminous pony or pumped-up top knot. on day 5, i’m ready to wash it again but, in truth, i could squeeze out a 5th day if i really needed to.

(side note: i’ve also been doing this before wearing my hair curly and along with using this wave texture spray, i can get a curly do to last 3 days easy.)

double washing has extended my time between washes, cut down on the need for dry shampoo (resulting in a much happier scalp) and i swear that it has also made my hair more healthy. i have noticed a big difference in the look and feel of my hair since i started doing it.

so, in summary – better hair and more sleep? now, we’re winning.

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on lash tinting7

34 damsel in dior

my lashes have always been fine.

they’re not thin or sparse, they’re not short and stubby, they hold curl fairly well – but still, they are nothing to write home about. and for me, fine just isn’t enough, because i’m a girl who likes a lot of lash. i don’t know why it’s the one part of my face that i focus on, but something about a full fan of fringe just makes me feel on top of the world.

you would be hard-pressed to find a mascara that i have not tried. i have liked a lot of them over the years, but finding the love formula has been quite an undertaking. a few of them come to mind favorably – currently this one – but none of them are really delivering the end result that i’m after on their own.

a couple of weeks ago, i read this article on lash tinting. it’s something that has been on my radar for the better part of a decade (my aunt has been getting it done forever and she has always sung it’s praises), but this seemed like the perfect time to take the plunge. so, I googled and yelped my way to a local salon and went in for the kill.

the $25 treatment was a piece of cake. lay down on a bed with your eyes closed for 15 minutes? no problem. my aesthetician even warned me of burning and stinging after she cleaned the excess dye off of my lashes, but i didn’t experience that at all.

now, for results. while my cautious caretaker prefaced the whole thing by telling me tinting would not make my lashes thicker or longer, i must fundamentally disagree. the dye gripped onto lashes that i did not know i had, ones that i have never before been able to discover with any type of mascara wand. it also made my lashes completely black from root to tip, meaning that yes! they do in fact look longer. in fact, my lash line actually looks tight lined 24-7 because the roots of my lashes are so dark and my bottom lashes are full and beautiful. the whole set looks permanently mascara’d without the risk of smudging.

these days, when I wake up in the morning now, my eyes look halfway done! i love running around on the weekends now without mascara because my lashes look longer, fuller and very much darker. mascara, what used to be my obsession, has now become an afterthought. it’s great if i have time – and it definitely still adds oomph / enhances the situation, especially in visible length, but it’s no longer absolutely necessary.

the aesthetician told me that my dye job should last six weeks, at which point i will definitely be going back for more. so, while i know that I am very late to the lash tinting party, i had to share this big beauty win.

do you get your lashes tinted?

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Posted in eyes, lashes | 7 Comments

algenist REVEAL color correcting radiant primer0

Algenist REVEAL Color Correcting Radiant Primer

as my skin has been aging, i have been finding a makeup primer to be more and more necessary. the layer of extra skincare and prep really help my face look more polished and my foundation to wear longer than if i had applied it directly over my moisturizer. however, as i have been testing various options, one thing became very clear – a good primer is hard to find.

recently, algenist REVEAL color correcting radiant primer started popping up across the web as a must-have for spring. it has a color correcting property (a super trendy and of-the-moment concept) that completely evens out my skin and prevents me from overdosing on foundation. out of the tube, the primer is white with small granules of color. as i smooth it onto my face, the colors burst and blend together to create a sheer wash of tint that erases dullness, neutralizes yellow tones, cancels out redness and softens any brown spots or dark circles.

from there, my foundation glides over top seamlessly and i find that i can get away with using far less product for that flawless finish. it provides a nice, even canvas for the rest of my makeup with hardly any effort at all. besides just looking great, my foundation lasts through the entire day and still appears just as fresh when i get home as it did when i left the house.

this one is a major win for my skincare routine, especially because it hasn’t caused a single clogged pore or breakout. if you’re on the hunt for an innovative primer that will minimize imperfections from your hairline to your chin, algenist is your new secret weapon.

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clinique pep-start eye cream5

clinique pep-start eye cream

first week at the new job was both thrilling and exhausting. my new schedule means that i am awake at 5 daily and back into the routine of getting myself presentable (i.e. dressed) for the office. while i would love to tell you that the reduction in beauty rest has no effect on my face, the truth is that my under eyes cannot tell a lie. the puff and darkness are making themselves known.

i used to think that there was no late-night shenanigans that could not be concealed by it cosmetics bye bye under eye, but this week quickly showed me that if the damage is bad enough, concealer alone will not hide your sins. thankfully, clinique is all over the solution to this common problem and their latest eye innovation, pep-start, is here to save the day.

pep-start is a lightweight eye cream meant to be worn during the day to wake up your face on contact. it instantly hydrates (feels super soothing and ultra refreshing) and visibly brightens, erasing all signs of not tending to your own basic sleep needs. i like to use my ring finger to apply instead of the ball tip because it’s a bit more gentle and i find that it’s easier to work with. once in place, the oil-free formula absorbs quickly, so my foundation stays put when i layer it over top (no creasing!).

aside from brightening my eyes – and i mean really brightening, my dark circles may be minimal, but they vanish after a dose of this stuff – pep start has also really softened the skin. there is far less need (actually, usually no need) for concealer once my face is all done up with primer and foundation. one dose per day provides enough extra hydration to help keep things looking fresh, rested and alert.

i am so pleased with the peak performance from this bright orange tube. i don’t know that any other daytime eye cream has ever made such a difference in my appearance!

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Posted in eyes | Tagged | 5 Comments


nate berkus mirror

i’ve had my eye on this nate berkus mirror ever since it popped up on rue magazine. it just seemed like something i needed for my desk – because swatching is serious business, and i’m a bit tired of popping into my powder room every time i test something new. i actually saved the date for when it would be available (today) and was delighted to find that not only is it very well-priced, but it’s also 10% off with code april10. win!

to catch all of my favorite products-to-be-posted i am fully lusting this super sweet dish, made by hand in brooklyn. i’m undecided on which glaze to go for – lashes or little lashes – or, let’s be honest, probably just both.

for added inspiration, i’m all over this “make it happen” mug from anthro. i love the aesthetic and i think it will be the perfect motivational boost throughout the day. that, and a little bit of this essential oil formulated to help with concentration.

what do you like to keep at your desk?

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packing a daily makeup bag1

sephora daydream voyager bag

i’m starting a new job on monday – and it’s been a good long while (five years to be exact) since i have commuted into an office daily. when considering this change of pace, obviously the very first place that my mind went was to my makeup bag. what do i need to have on hand? what will keep my face looking fab from 9 to 5?

for starters, a good hand cream is a must, followed by the best nail file, floss picks (trust me) and a crowd-pleasing, office-appropriate mini perfume. the kai oil is my current favorite, but it shares a place in my heart with this one and this one.

i tend to get shiny (read: i can barely make it to lunch without some kind of oil absorber) and i’m really taken with this solution from clinique. i’ll be stashing a retractable kabuki in alongside it, because dirty brushes tend to cause breakouts and well, that’s just not professional.

to take care of any touchups throughout the day, i find that i get the most miles out of a concealer that works for both my under eyes and my spots. i like a super creamy formula – this one is popular, but i’ve chosen this guy to take up permanent residence. love that it’s oil free and love, love the price point!

finally, i’ll pack a killer coral lip, one that’s moisturizing and easy to swipe on before a meeting.

tuck them all into one great-looking bag (with pineapple lining) and the sky’s the limit.

(at least, that’s what i’m telling myself.)

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Posted in bags, concealer, face, fragrance, lips, tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

my hair cuttery spring look1

hair cuttery

the warm weather has me wanting to lighten up my dark brunette hair. i knew that lara had a great experience partnering with hair cuttery after her daughter was born, so when the team there invited me in to get a new spring look, i leapt at the chance.

stefanie ramos hair cuttery before

i chose to go to a hair cuttery in richmond, virginia and visit an old friend from cosmetology school. as soon as i walked in, i knew that i was in good hands. the employees were so sweet and made sure that i was comfortable. my stylist piper spoke my language – she knew exactly what i wanted to do with my hair. i had been craving bayalage, but because my natural hair is so dark, i am very picky about my highlights becoming too bright and brassy.

stefanie ramos hair cuttery during

while she worked, piper talked me through the whole process of doing my hair. she used a new lightener from redken called free hand, made specifically for doing baby lights and bayalage. there are no foils used which give the stylist the ability to basically hand paint the color wherever she wants. the product and the technique lighten the hair gradually making the bayalage look incredibly natural.

stefanie ramos hair cuttery after

the end result was remarkable. my hair looked perfectly sun-kissed, making me officially ready for spring and (eek!) my upcoming college graduation. i had an awesome experience at hair cuttery and i will most deffintley be back.

stefanie ramos hair cuttery spring look

about hair cuttery: hair cuttery is the largest family owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, with nearly 900 company-owned locations on the east coast, and in new england and the midwest. a full-service, value-priced salon, hair cuttery offers a full complement of cuts and styling, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary, as well as a full line of professional hair care products. hair cuttery is a division of ratner companies, based in vienna, va.

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clinique dramatically different0

clinique dramatically different moisturizing cream

if you ask any makeup guru they will tell you that the most important step is prep. how you care for your own skin before laying down foundation or bronzer is key – and since this is the only face you will get, you might as well take excellent care of it.

i  have recently become more serious about my skin, mainly because as i have gotten older, my skin is more and more dehydrated. i get dry patches around my eyes and muzzle area very easily and i also have really sensitive skin, so i have to be careful with what products i use.

having troublesome skin can make it tricky to find those magical moisturizer formulas, but clinique dramatically different moisturizer has changed my skin. this moisturizer is so rich and leaves my skin hydrated all day long, but not greasy (which is very important). i have been using the dramatically different lotion in the morning and the dramatically different cream at night. the only difference between the two is that the cream is a thicker formula, so it works better for me throughout the night (more like a mask) and the lotion is lightweight, perfect for day-to-day wear.

to help with my under-eye dry patches i use the all about eyes eye cream. this is my first eye cream (fun fact – it was lara’s first, too!) and while i know i should have been using it regularly, i just always told myself that i was young and didn’t need it. since working this into my routine, i now know that eye cream doesn’t just help to prevent and combat existing wrinkles. my eyes are far less puffy, more hydrated and my concealer goes on like a dream!

you might be wondering how i truly know these products are working. as a college student, i came home for spring break a few weeks ago and forgot my new products at school. while i was home, i used any old moisturizer i could find and boy, did things go badly. my skin was so dehydrated, with so many dry patches, and foundation was breaking up on my skin. not a pretty sight. i found myself ticking down the days until i could return to school (ha!) and get back to my tried and true clinique line.

not surprisingly, this skin care routine has dramatically (see what i did there?) improved the way my face feels and (even better) the way makeup wears on my skin. i have ditched the dry patches and instead, i’m enjoying a natural glow.

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gel moisturizers0

gel moisturizer

all of a sudden, the moisturizer that i have been loving all winter long, is no longer soaking into my skin. it’s just kind of…sitting there. and it is not playing nicely with my foundation causing things to kind of ball up and flake off. so gross.

in doing a little research, it seems that this is a common complaint of said moisturizer, but it could also be that the one i’m using is suddenly a bit more than my skin needs. my face is indeed soaking up what it wants, but the excess moisture is left on the surface to “fight” with my makeup.

so, i’m officially on the hunt for a spring-ready gel moisturizer. i was already on the prowl, but after devouring this byrdie article which noted all of the options on my shopping list as contenders, this seasonal must-have has shot to the very top of my pretty priorities.

do you use a gel moisturizer? have you tested or made friends with any of the options below? i’m curious to know if this is a spend or splurge moment (clearly i’m leaning a bit more towards splurge…) and if the ones that i’m considering are holy grail formulas or to be avoided altogether.

can’t wait to hear your thoughts – please spill and share in the comments!

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