PRIME. Polish. SHINE. Repeat.

AILA-PolishMy manicure might be the same today as it was yesterday but make no mistake: I am a new woman. I finally finished Friday Night Lights and I’m trying to cope with what life will be like with no new episodes to watch. I realize that this is so 2011 and I’m not trying to stir up any emotions for anyone that has already reached the point of acceptance but my wounds are fresh. I nearly chewed off my nail in the penultimate scene with that ball spiraling through the air (not a spoiler…the show is about football!) but caught myself before I ruined my manicure which is going six days strong. Do you like? AILA is a new discovery that I’m really excited about. It’s available exclusively at BeauTeaBar right now. Aside from the chic glass block bottles, this niche brand uses some non-traditional ingredients in its mission to create a healthier nail system.

AILA Nail Polish

The PRIME base coat is infused with garlic which has a rep in the med community for being a natural anti-fungal and nail strengthener. The female founders are both physicians so this nod to medicine makes sense. But it’s the SHINE top coat that is surely stretching my mani so far. Ginger is a bright poppy hue that looks even better with a little slick on top. It’s going on my toes next!

Also…Texas Forever (ahhh!)

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Let’s Talk Lipstick

Josie Maran Happy Honey

Today is basically a national holiday. Almost. It’s National Lipstick Day so I feel it only appropriate to talk about my favorite swivel bullet as of late. I cannot take credit for this discovery but will certainly preach the power of what might just be the perfect nude lipstick. My coworker Rachel, one of my favorite Chicago-based humans, flashed this rose gold tube of Josie Maran Happy Honey at work one day and confidently told me that it was a game-changing discovery. For good measure, she applied it in that moment and even I can’t deny visual evidence.  I thought about it for a few days and took the plunge myself. So did another coworker — the Happy Honey craze is spreading like wildfire. The inner core is a rosy nude with just the right balance of pink and brown and it’s wrapped in a blanket of Josie’s Argan Oil. It’s all very hi-tech. Right when you apply – mirror optional – there’s an intense dewy effect from the argan oil that slowly disappears into your lips, hydrating like woah along the way. What other incredible discoveries have you guys made? I’m all ears today. Let’s do Lipstick Day justice!

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Oh, Canada. You’re My Favourite.


I don’t think I spend enough time on a boat, guys. This enlightenment came after cruising around Lake Ontario last week during a company party.  Seeing Toronto from the water was just three straight hours of #nofilter moments happening right in front of my eyes. My coworker snapped this photo randomly a few hours in (read: a few hours of drinks in) and it is my accidental fav of the night. I think she nailed the “we on a boat” perspective. This week’s pretty picks are an ode to an inspiring 36 hours in Toronto. You could say they are my “favourites.” Be back soon, Canada.

Canada Fashion and Beauty

ILIA Lip Crayon – We have a Canadian to thank for the best organic lipstick, ever. Not surprisingly, ILIA makes one of the best lip crayons, too. Karma Chameleon is a coral to be reckoned with! // Vasanti Exfoliator – Someone commented on this post and reminded me of this scrub. I got this in my Birchbox and it was the first I’d heard of the brand. I was all WHO makes this and how can I try EVERYTHING they make. The answer: a) Canadian group of gal pals and b) exclusively in the U.S. thanks to BB. // Cover FX Cream Concealer – A few years ago when I was in New York for The Makeup Show, I spent some time with the Cover FX team in from Toronto and learned all about their approach to complexion…which is world class coverage. // Willow Bark Tonic – Stark’s founder Jessica Lafleur has a refreshing POV. She’s the first to admit she doesn’t even like the beauty industry…and her line of natural skin care, which she makes by hand in Montreal,  is her way of making change happen. This face tonic is legit. // Leather Clutch – How amazing are these Scout & Catalogue bags?  Classic and simple at its best. The other side of this leather bag is actually suede. //  AILA Nail Polish + Cuticle Therapy – This brand new line of nail care is developed by two physicians who are trying to create less toxic nail polish. I think they’re nailing it… //  Haut Cosmetics  - My go to source on all things niche (Marissa of BeauTeaBar!) turned me on to this vegan makeup line. The brighteners are like erasers of all the things you want to hide and you can purchase mini samples before committing to the full-size, which is so convenient.

Top photo credit: Kristin Rogers

correction: AILA is actually based in LA and Nashville! 

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Birchbox Has a Store…And it’s Always BYOB

Birchbox Store

A Birchbox store, as in brick and mortar, just opened in Soho. Take me there!

Birchbox Store Soho


Conceivably there’s no product in this store that I can’t get online at Birchbox but the experiences add a whole other level of excitement as a shopper. There’s the BYOB station where you “build your own box” (maybe the only time I’d be more excited about BYOB with another meaning), a special ‘Try Bar’ that changes monthly with editor-approved seasonal trends, Instagrams from Birchbox customers as decor, $10 manicures, hair stylists by appointment and shelves of beauty sorted by type versus brand. On that last point, I tend to think that’s how we should be shopping for beauty everywhere. We do it anyway…your makeup bag is proof. I went back and checked. It was September 2010 when that that little pink box first arrived in my mailbox. It’s been a monthly treat for almost four years and it never matters how many beauty products I try, I always love discovering something new or old in my Birchbox. My trips to New York are usually in and out but you know I will be carving out enough time for a proper visit a.s.a.p.

Photos via Birchox

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Flushed for Summer

Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette

The Urban Decay Naked takeover continues. Is it really any surprise? The neutral franchise expands far beyond eyeshadow and now has enough extensions for your whole face and even body. I think they’re giving the people what they want. I took The Glossarie’s recommendation and tried the Naked Flushed Palette for a one-stop bronze, blush and highlight. These 3-in-1 palettes almost never work for me. Most of the time something is off. Either the bronzer leans orange, the highlighter too obvious, the formula cakey, etc. If even one of the three doesn’t work it defeats the purpose of the palette. Had Lara not recommended this, even I would have been surprised to be reaching for this non-stop. It’s just so effortless. I’ve been using ‘Streak’ (you’ve got to hand it to them on consistent branding…) which has a golden bronzer, champagne highlight and peachy coral blush that is so summery. I lean more on the prescriptive side of application but a blend of all three in one fell swoop translates really balanced and beautiful on all of those areas the sun hits your face. The all-in-one house option sure does make packing the weekend bag much easier.

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Anniversary Sale…Let’s Do This

nordstrom anniversary sale 2014

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is here again to tempt us with fall boots and beauty exclusives.  It’s one of my favorite traditions. If you can muster up the mood to shop for cooler weather there are some incredible deals to be had. Here’s what’s topping my list!

Deborah Lippmann – The grey and plum are more broody than the brighter colors I’ve been wearing all summer. How about that blush-hued glitter? // Bracelet Watch – I could get lost in that turquoise face. // Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay – This cream and black ribboned box is a present I want to open. // Tea Tin Candle – Love the vintage look of this octagonal shaped tin and it’s completely functional for storage after the candle is done burning. // NARS Cheek Palette and Dolce Vita TrioNARS bundled up some of its best colors in these special sets. Dolce Vita is everyone’s most flattering rose and this blush palette has two classics and a few new shades that I need to try, stat. // Moto Boot – These Steve Madden motos are exactly what I’ve been looking for and I need to seize the sale moment. // Dior Fluid Stick – Holy hot bullet of lipstick. The secret? It’s actually a gloss. // Button Earrings – If you, like me, have been eyeing up these House of Harlow earrings, you’ll be happy to see they are on sale for the next 10 days. The necklace, too! // Trish McEvoy Planner – Trish’s planners are epic and this exclusive comes packed with all of her bestsellers. Major score. //  Over the Knee Boot – These remind me of the 5050s which I have been wanting forever. It is time for me to think ahead to leggings and slouchy sweaters.

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The Un-Flash Sale Experience


Flash sales are so 2010. Remember that panicked hour of refreshing your browser to see if someone released the size 6 boots? And then waiting approximately six weeks, often more, to get your order? I loved the thrill of the chase – and scored some sweet beauty deals – but there is a better way that doesn’t play with your emotions quite so much. I’m a devotee of the flash sale reincarnate over at Gloss48. It captures the best parts – discounts (20-50% off) and surprise (a new line is introduced each day!) – but the sales span an entire week and then Gloss48 continues to carry the line, at full price, in their adorable e-shop.

MarieNatie Gloss

There’s been a week of zen with Miyu Beauty, seven days of discounted Pretty Peashun (which I’m kicking myself for missing!) and Jenny Patinkin’s “lazy perfection” makeup brushes. And there’s even a few more days to snag MUN’s youth serum for almost 30% off…oh, dreamy MUN!  I think the buyers are my spirit animals.

When the team gave me a sneak peek at one of their newest discoveries and assured me that I would go nuts for the glosses I knew to trust them.  MarieNatie Cosmetics, a “clean” Canadian makeup line, is starting its 7-day flash reign today on Gloss48 and everything, including these decidedly sheer and brightening lip glosses that have been tucked in my colorful Stephanie Johnson makeup bag since they arrived, is 20-25% off. Let the stress-free flash-ish shopping commence!

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The Ecosystem of Eyeshadow

Back 2 Mac

The perk of being a MAC-aholic is the reward they dish out just for using their makeup. For you and the environment. The Back 2 Mac recycling program means that empty plastic container you’re ready to toss will emerge anew as a fresh tube of Ruby Woo. I don’t need an incentive to recycle but I sure to do appreciate the reward for finishing up makeup. I consider it a major accomplishment when I finally make it through an entire pan of eyeshadow and can even see the silver lining when I run out of Pro Longwear concealer. It works like this: for every six finished products you return to a MAC counter in their primary packaging – think anything in a compact or a tube – MAC will give you a free lipstick. And, if you bring your finished loot to a MAC store, you can also exchange for an eyeshadow or lip glass. As a seasoned Back 2 MAC-er, I’ve got a few more tips to share.

Empty-ish is OK. Regret that glittery gloss? Hanging on to something for years? Did that nail polish chip constantly? It’s cool…you don’t literally have to finish every single drop.

Charity exemption.  MAC donates 100% of Viva Glam sales to help people living with HIV/AIDS so you can’t redeem for this line. You can, however, include them as one of your empties.

Classics only. MAC has a ton of new formulas – Sheen Supreme, Mineralize, Pro Longwear, to name a few – but the freebies are limited to the classic formulas in the standard packaging. For lipstick, think the iconic MAC black bullet in classic shades like Ruby Woo.

All That Glitters. The best eye brightening goes with everything color. A classic worth every one of those six empties you’ll exchange it for.

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A Madison State of Mind

madison style

Visiting Madison in the summer time is awesome. Bringing two friends who have never been to Madison (ever…not just summer) is even better. I was such a proud hostess this weekend and a bit of a dairy pusher. Cheese curds with every meal is OK…sure…yes. I’ve been a little tightly wound and as soon as I saw that Capitol dome I felt the tension loosen. Madison has that effect on me. The carefree (a.k.a. give absolutely zero f*ks) vibes people give off are like therapy. Plus, it was a really great excuse to wear my Birkenstocks all weekend—they never stopped happening there. I’m hoping to ride out this post-Madison state of mind for as long as I can starting with a fresh set of inspired pretty picks.

Milkhaus Weekender Bag – The creator of Milkhaus Design is based in Madison and says her original designs are inspired by the details she notices going about her day. I love her aesthetic and this tote. // Free People Mercury Sunglasses – I picked these up on an impulse last month in LA and am so glad I did. Paying a lot for sunglasses is something I’ll never do since I always break them. These were such a good deal but look much splurgier. // Life NK Daily Fix Body Lotion  - This was part of one of Space NK’s recent gift with purchases and I tossed it in my travel bag for the first time. It’s a total goodie — moisturizing and fragrance-free. // Urban Decay Easy Baked - I wear less makeup in Madison and wore this soft gold nonstop with just a little bit of liquid liner. Also, could there be a more Madison appropriate shadow name? I mean… // Catchkid – We stumbled onto this band playing at a street festival near the Square (the Capitol area) and ended up watching them for an hour. The lead singer reminded me of Chris Martin in every way and the guitarist had a real John Mayer thing going on. Consider me a major fan.  // TOMS Ankle Strap Sandal Lindsay wore these all weekend and I’m probably going to copy her. We seem to have a lot of similar items in our wardrobes and are in a constant state of “bitch stole my look.”

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Spa Day The Kohler Way


Kohler is a magical place in Wisconsin. For starters, it’s where bathtubs are made. This tiny village north of Milwaukee is one of the most beautiful places to visit in my home state – nature upon nature, golf courses men dream of, happy birds, beaches and of course, the best spa in the Midwest. Kohler shared the love with its border state and brought that spa goodness to the Chicago burbs. Bless them and their bath-centric massage services. I spent the afternoon at Kohler’s Burr Ridge Day Spa with Lindsay. We powered down our devices, put on a pair of spa slippers and settled in for what was the most relaxing day I’ve had all year.  I went in for the Seasonal Sensation, one of Kohler’s hydrotherapy treatments which are essentially a bath, shower and massage in one. And, yes, it put me into a complete zombie trance. Vichy showers pulsate warm and cool water and the massage therapist uses a scotch hose to trace the meridian liens of the body. At one point, she wrapped my body and encased me in a cozy bath cocoon and then turned on the Vichy spouts. She even shampooed my hair, guys. Before that went down we took advantage of Kohler’s spa services doing intervals of sauna, hot tub, shower and steam room (in that order). Treatments can set you back – here and elsewhere – so the fact that Kohler-goers can spend the day (literally…all day) in a fluffy robe eating banana chips between sauna and shower can’t be beat.

Note: Kohler provided us with complimentary spa services. Opinions are always my own.

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