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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The Birkenstocks Revival


Birkenstocks are back and now that I’ve got my feet in a pair I’m concerned I may never wear another shoe again. It’s like a cozy cocoon for my feet and I’m just wondering who I have to thank for these being “fashionable” again. I completely get why some people stayed in their Birks since 1994. There really is a better way. Consider me a convert (for now). As my friend Lindsay joked, is this a slippery slope to the land of tangled hair and no makeup for me? Hardly, though the Birkenstocks revival is inspiring a whole new wave of simplified summertime living for me.

Nourish Fig Deodorant. I’ve long gone natural with my deo and Nourish is the one I always go back to. I need reliable in the summer months. // Fez Body Serum. Patchouli and Birks, what can I say, they just go together. But there’s more to this body serum than a stereotype – there’s rose, orange blossom layered with vetiver, ylang-ylang and hints of cumin and clove. Please make this into a perfume, Kahina! //  S.W. Basics Toner. I discovered this apple cider vinegar toner last summer and it balanced my skin and prevented breakouts like a champ. It’s back in action again, morning and night on a clean face. // Madewell Piazza Maxi Dress. The great thing about Birks is they go with everything.  Shorts, jeans and especially flowy dresses. I love this in red and white. // Birkenstocks. I went with the Gizeh Birko-Flor in Golden Brown. On my foot, I thought this fit was the most flattering. A requisite for wearing these non-stop: a great pedi color. // Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Castile Soap. This is the soap equivalent of Birkenstocks. The question is: what can’t you wash with Dr. Bronner’s? The rose is my favorite. //  Meow Meow Tweet Tweet Camper’s Kit. Mosquitoes are enemy number one in summer. For a night out on the lake, bring reinforcements. MMTT’s Insect Repellent doubles as a perfume. For real…not just when you’re wearing Birks. // One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo. The longer I go between washes, the better my hair looks. The key is a great dry shampoo and powder formulas are the best.

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Your Entire Face, in a Stick

Nudestix MakeupEvery summer, I get absolutely giddy in the back to school aisles. Trips to Target get even more ADD and I’m scouring shelves for gel pens and notebooks with Boston Terriers on them. I never mentally got past the eighth grade in that regard. I think maybe that is why I’m so excited about this new, pencils only makeup line that just popped up at Space NK. Called Nudestix, it’s the brainchild of industry vet Jenny Frankel, of MAC Cosmetics and Cover FX (she co-created the line in 2000) fame. Frankel and her two daughters, who I’m betting geek out in the paper product aisle themselves, created a streamlined collection of neutral-toned makeup “stix” that can be used interchangeably on skin, eyes, lips and cheeks.  This back to basics, no-brush required approach is admittedly pretty fun. While there’s no shortage of crayon-inspired makeup on the market, the n-stix ladies have perfected the formula. Nudestix pencils are creamy and infused with vitamins and moisturizers. The ‘Shimmer’ Eye Pencil is a beautiful white gold highlighter that I’ve been using all over my face. The Lip and Cheek Pencils spread easily on cheeks and don’t dry up on lips. Every shade just gives you a little bit of that “me but better” look. You won’t find this in store at the Chicago Space NK location but the  full line is available at Space NK online.

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Tan Lines


Tan lines happen and I usually finish the season with a few different patterns on my arms, chest and feet. Not my favorite look but hey, it’s proof of many a rooftop cocktails and patio meals. I spend the majority of my week indoors so I get more outdoor meals than I do beach days. When those happen, I treasure them like national holidays. Here’s to digging our toes in the sand at some point this week — it is an actual national holiday and all.

Tan lines, no. The tan line manicure: yes!  Sephora has the how-to and I’ve got just the Essie polishes in mind to recreate. // Suntegrity SPF 30 - This is way more than just a sunscreen (thankfully, because it pricey.) It’s a makeup primer and a moisturizer with an impressive list of ingredients to treat your skin: hyaluronic acid, aloe, jojoba, pomegranate, green tea and cucumber. // Bobbi Brown Beach Rollerball – Thank you, BOBBI! This rollerball needed to happen. This scent captures summer so perfectly. // Striped Muscle Tank – Here’s one way to prevent a farmer tan. Also, J. Crew’s summer sale is too tempting.  // Floppy HatThe best way to protect your face from the sun comes in the form of a big old floppy headpiece. This one is pretty fabulous (and under $15!) // Perricone No Bronzer Bronzer – File this one under makeup that is smarter than you. It’s a one shade serum that mixes with your skin to give you a healthy glow. I so want to try!

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