eyeshadow for everyday with mark. on the dot neutral2

mark. on the dot neutral eyeshadow

so, it turns out that being a beauty junkie does not translate to being a makeup artist – especially when it comes it eyeshadow.

taking an artistry class has been on my bucket list for the longest, so imagine my delight when i got to sit for a lesson with rajan tolomei. he’s a master of his trade and he walked us through everything from contouring (sharp lines! do not be afraid!) to a killer lash technique. (use your mascara brush like a tiny hammer and repeatedly press it into your lashes for major drama and lift. on the bottoms, it’s ok to smudge the brush right on your lash line for a “dirty” finish).

for eyes, he demonstrated a neutral smoky eyeshadow look that i am newly obsessed with. i have been recreating it with ease using my longtime-favorite palette from mark. it has every shade you could ever need – and trust me, you will use all of them.

the formulas are pigmented and shimmery metallic with stunning champagnes, subtle lavenders, and pretty taupes – a combination sure to flatter every single eye color. regrettably, my lids are oily and everything creases on me. with these, there’s no fallout, no fading, and i find that the pigment sticks beautifully, lasting all day when i lay them down over top of my favorite primer.

fun tip: i love to sub traditional black for the gorgeous aubergine that’s in the middle of the far-right column. it’s softer and unexpected, plus a big complement to hazel eyes like mine.

aside from being pocket friendly at $16, this palette is easy to pack and a dream to travel with thanks to its compact size. if you pull the trigger on this one, i’m predicting that you will use it every single day.

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a few good things2


i cannot pretend life isn’t crazy. transitioning to a fast-paced full-time office gig and four hours commuting daily has basically turned my reality upside down – but there are still so many bright spots, beauty and otherwise.

1 – my skin is looking GOOD. would you believe me if i told you that i haven’t had a zit since december 2015? this skincare routine is still rocking my world. i am using the toner, micellar water and serum religiously.

2 – this moisturizer is complementing my origins routine beautifully. i don’t know how i haven’t posted about it yet because it’s the first lightweight moisturizer to actually offer hydration. the souffle-like consistency is super unique and it refreshes my skin every time that i apply it. l-o-v-e (and already ordered a replacement tube!).

3 – i’m newly podcast obsessed and i cannot believe how i ever survived without my current favorites. leandra medine’s monocycle is simply amazing. i never really took to her as a blogger and now i’m kicking myself because her gritty realness is seriously inspiring. aside from that i love the longest shortest time for parenting advice (but GOOD parenting advice – just listen, you’ll see what i mean), lo bosworth and co’s lady lovin’ (so freakin’ great), and refinery 29’s strong opinions loosely held. any others that i’m missing?

4 – topping my wish list is this knockoff for the nars yachiyo brush. has anyone tried? you can see more of my product lusts here.

5 – i’m currently writing from the air en route to vegas and scooped up this dress before departure. it might be the most flattering thing in my closet. (and thank goodness for that, because let me tell you that 20 hours in your  car every week does not do nice things to your spare tire…)

what’s new with you?

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elizabeth arden skin illuminating retexturing pads4

elizabeth arden skin illuminating retexturizing pads

hi. are you still out there?

i know it’s been awhile, but when something finds its way into my regular routine, it’s still time to share it with you. some things just don’t change.

the current hero of my skincare regimen is a surprise from elizabeth arden. i have mistakenly counted this lady out as someone whose products were best suited for my mom, but it turns out that i have been missing some major opportunity for clear, bright, and glowing skin.

these skin illuminating retexturizing pads oh-so-sneakily combine manual exfoliation (which my skin has historically struggled with) and chemical exfoliation (which has not always done enough for me). they are slightly gritty and packed with glycolic acid to renew the top layers of skin and reveal serious glow. to counterbalance their major exfoliating powers, ms. arden brilliantly added in essential oils which help to keep things calm and eliminate all chances for redness.

as a whole, i am lo-ving these. my skin has turned from dull and patchy to smooth and glowy (where even my husband is making comments) – they are like a mini facial in a jar! i use one pad a few mornings each week and the way my moisturizer soaks in afterward feels delicious. following that, my foundation glides over top and blends beautifully.

along with delivering all-around gorgeous results, these pads are a road warrior’s dream. (have you ever tried to fly with a bottle of toner? it’s misery.) they have served up a big boost to my skincare situation, keeping my face flawless both at home and on the go – ensuring that i’ll be giving this brand a second look from now on.

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about my curls1

air dried curls waves devacurl

ugh, my hair.

i know the grass is always greener, but here’s the deal. i have the type of hair that falls somewhere between wavy and curly. it resists straightening, making that process long and labor-intensive, and i have what is considered to be a week curl pattern which means wearing my hair in its natural state and making it look good actually takes a lot of effort.

on a recent twitter deep dive, i came across a selfie from sara whose curls are lust-worthy. when i mentioned to her how super gorge they were looking, she replied and i quote “it’s all devacurl.”

i don’t know how i have lived 34 years with curly hair without trying arguably the best curl brand on the market, but here we are. i prowled their website and actually reached out for some custom recommendations. i quickly secured low-poo delight, one condition and styling cream – and anxiously awaited their arrival.

since they have made their way into my shower routine, i have noticed a big difference in my hair. there is something about using a system prescribed for my particular brand of curl that makes products like these well worth the investment. normally, when I take my hair out of its turban each morning, it’s kind of kinky and flat. after using the devacurl goods, my curls are already defined with a happy sort of bounce. adding the styler just gives definition, shape and hold to my waves – and the final look is soft and natural without crunch, but it holds all day.

i can get one wash to last three days (currently loving this product as a refresher mist on day two!) and without the need for heat styling, my hair is so much happier and healthier. it curls up better and better each time that I use this trio.

considering that curls are tricky and hair type is so specific, i still have to assume that devacurl could bring life to twisted tendrils of all varieties. and – i’d be curious to know if there are any other devacurl lovers out there, if anyone has gotten one of their industry-leading haircuts, or if you have other curl products that you’re obsessed with!

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lancôme le teint particulier custom made makeup0

Lancôme Le Teint Particulier

one of the biggest frustrations when buying a new foundation is finding your perfect shade. nothing is worse than thinking you have a great match, stepping into natural light (this usually happens to me in my car) and realizing your face does not match the rest of your body. foundation is such an important step in my makeup routine. it’s the base that all of my other products will lay on, so i take it pretty seriously. when i got the opportunity to try the new lancôme le teint particulier custom made makeup i jumped at the chance.

this new cutting-edge system whips up your ultimate, perfect shade of foundation. the process is very simple. the beauty advisor will scan your face in two different areas to find out your true tone. once the data was processed, i was diagnosed as 50/50 – or completely neutral. the advisor will then ask your preferred coverage and your skin type to determine how much pigment and moisturizer will be put into the foundation. now, here comes the fun part: your personalized foundation formula is blended right in front of you at the counter and you get a specialized shade number on the bottle for easy reference for a refill.

when my foundation was finished blending, i was amazed by the results. the color match was perfection. the foundation truly looked like second skin. the formula was long-lasting, breathable and it’s oil-free, paraben-free and fragrance-free, perfect for my sensitive skin! this new unique service is truly remarkable and it was so exciting to watch it come to life right in front of my eyes.

if you find yourself having trouble finding a foundation, whether it’s the color match or even the formula i highly suggest trying this new lancôme system. there is nothing else like it and i hope that it’s a sign of more custom makeup to come!

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the estee edit late night eraser brightening eye balm0

the estee edit late night eraser brightening balm

let me preface this post by saying that i got up at 3:45 a.m. today.

thankfully that’s not the norm (i’m en route to NYC for the day and had to catch an early train), but please tell that to the skin under my eyes, which is wearing all signs of a too-short sleep cycle. whilst my tired self certainly feel like it could use a third cup of coffee, today’s hero product has worked some major magic on the puffs and creases i woke up with to reveal an under eye situation that’s perky and bright.

inside this tube by estee lauder is a thick, luxurious, not-at-all greasy balm with a gorgeous pearly sheen. i like to apply it over my moisturizer (either before or after my primer, depending on when i remember) and on the sleepiest of mornings, it smooths into place easily. it works like an extra hour or two of rest, delivering instant life and brightness to the half moon area under my eyes, counteracting puff and discoloration and basically working like hangover cure for my entire face.

while it’s less hydrating than this option (and it lacks SPF) it seriously changes the game in dire lack-of-sleep situations. in fact, the other morning i thought i could skip it, completed my makeup routine and then applied it OVER my foundation to the tune of outstanding results.

for anyone who likes to indulge or stay up past their bedtime, this wonder product is one to keep on hand because you’ll just never know when you need it. if you’re me, you’ll need it monday through friday without fail, but your coworkers will be none the wiser about your shenanigans / you will come off as the magical person who can survive on a few hours sleep and still slay her ad agency brief. (here’s hoping!)

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tata harper elixir vitae eye serum0


tata harper elixir vitae eye serum

i don’t know how to tell you this … but i’m in love with a $265 eye serum.

the reason that i’m even writing this post instead of hiding in shame in my bathroom (wondering how i will ever justify repurchasing this magic potion) is that it delivers on every single claim that it makes. so if you can imagine pooling all of the money that you’ve spent on inefficient eye treatments (i.e. overpriced moisturizers) and putting it towards the one thing that might actually change your entire face, keep reading.

tata harper elixir vitae eye serum is targeted, ultra concentrated, and has completely reversed all signs of aging around my eyes. fine lines are plumped, crows feet have vanished, and my eyes have never looked so youthful. the smoothing effects were visible after the very first application and the crop of budding wrinkles that had taken over my eye area are harder and harder to find every morning since.

i could honestly write pages on why i love this stuff so much, but it really comes down to the simple fact that it gets the job done. my eyes are as bright and full of volume as they were…well, i can’t even remember when. the bottle is massive and the tiniest drop covers both eyes. coming from someone who doesn’t even pay this kind of money for denim, i’m telling you – this is the holy grail.

** alas if $265 isn’t in the cards, the reviews have been pouring in for this option as an alternative. (please let me know if you scoop it up – it’s high on my wish list and i am so curious to see if it delivers!)

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benefit brow bar at ulta beauty5

benefit brow bar at ulta beauty

about six months ago, i went to a threading appointment that left me bleeding. (it was my regular place, not my regular girl – she didn’t know what she was doing and it ended pretty badly for me.) since then, i opted to let my brows go for a very long time without waxing or threading. while i tried pretty hard to convince myself natural brows were in, they grew into a definitive hot mess.

while becoming more and more frustrated with their state of unruliness, i have been reading reviews of the benefit brow bar at ulta. on a recent stroll through the store, i decided that it was time to take the plunge.

my brow stylist was downright adorable. she was chatty and her brows looked amazing, so i instantly felt like i was in pretty good hands. she told me that she had been fully trained in benefit’s specific method of waxing brows. she mapped them out, filled them in, and then waxed everything that fell outside of the lines, talking me through the whole process and making me feel very comfortable.

she used an ultra gentle exclusive-to-benefit champagne wax – it almost has a mother of pearl sheen to it, seriously the prettiest wax that i have ever seen! she used a new wooden stick for every dip, completely eliminating the possibility of cross-contamination. (something i had never seen before, but now i know that i will be looking for it at every waxing.) the whole process was quick and painless. while some might find it weird to sit in the middle of a store and have your brows waxed, it wasn’t weird at all for me.

when she was done, she used a little powder to fill things in and the end results were absolute perfection. the sharpest lines, the most perfect taper, i could not be more obsessed with my brow shape and thickness. she really listened to me when i told her that i wanted things to look natural, but pulled together.

since then, the compliments have been pouring in and i have already sent countless people to the benefit brow bar at their local ulta. i was really impressed with the whole thing, by far the best brow experience that i have ever had.

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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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