Tag Archives: beauty tips

We’re All a One-of-A-Kind Slab

Marble Home Style

I’m drawn to the imperfection of a marble surface. The whirling patterns, overlapping shades and the fact that no two slabs are the same. I think I may just be in a marble phase right now – both in the physical sense (new kitchen table en route!) and spiritual. I think we can all appreciate the whirls and swirls that shape up our own one-of-a-kind slabs. Right?

Deborah Lippmann ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ – Consider me intrigued by DL’s holiday colors that are meant to be layered and swirled together. No one manicure is the same with her glitters, which I love. Plus, it’s sparkle for grown-ups. //   Arrow Earrings – The stone here is actually a lapis Nevada which is said to be a source of creativity and protection. Once again, Michelle creates affordable jewelry that is completely unique and special. She’s the best. // Marbled PillowI found this Danish designer, Selma Lamai, on Pinterest and am in love with her aesthetic.  Can we be friends, Selma? // Ceramic Bowls – No way would I jail these inside of a kitchen cabinet. // Duffel Bag – Of A Kind is one of my go-to resources for discovering new designers. One of their featured collections is from Brooklyn duo Cook & Gates who create incredible hand dyed bags. A painter by trade, the “Gates” half says “I got into dyeing because you can never produce anything identical.” Amen, sister. // Laura Mercier Baked Eyeshadow – You can use these shadows wet and dry and customize a saturated or sheer look. This shade, called Magical, is so fun. Mix together to create a graphite color, use the black as a liner or dust the white on the lid like pixie dust.

Local. Feminine. Bold.

Laurie Leopold

These words are more than just a tagline but the soul and energy of the stories I’m telling. In my very first meeting with Lindsay of White Oak Creative, I said I wanted this space to be less pretty. I’ve got nothing against pretty – promise, my pretty picks are here to stay.  But it was feeling a bit precious for me and I don’t want to lead with that notion. Because even though I may write about pretty sometimes, I want to dig my nails (albeit freshly manicured) under the surface and get more real. I want to talk about the challenges and grit we go through to feel strong and confident. I want to introduce you to women that are doing life their way. Being bold and badass. I plan to keep showing you Chicago and highlighting local designers and businesses. And, there will still be lots of feminine goodness and beauty products, too. That’s a given!

312 Beauty

Berry Lip

These photos were taken in one of my favorite areas of the city – the Fulton River District. It has that industrial charm and some of the coolest building exteriors in the city. These bright blue doors called to me—I love the bold backdrop. I matched it with Chicago-based Michelle Starbuck jewelry–my gosh, do I adore that woman– and a berry lip. Because it’s fall ya’ll.

Will you join me in loving your city (wherever yours is!)? And always dare to be bold. It feels good.

This Balm is Sexy and it Knows It

Kahina Fez

Balm season is upon us and I’m full on ready. Or should I say prepared? Ready implies eager and that part just ain’t true. Balms are how I survive winter without my face and body completely surrendering to the elements. I’m certain I would be a shriveled mess without. Lotion can’t touch a balm. They rarely moisturize deeper than that outermost layer of skin. It’s why you might get dry and scaly skin despite having slathered an absurd amount of lotion on your entire body H2T just hours earlier.

Kahina Fez Balm

Balms, on the other hand, are restorative beyond all get out. One of the most spectacular takes on a body balm is from Kahina Giving Beauty. Back at A Night for Green Beauty, I met Katharine L’Heureux, the founder of Kahina. She’d just launched the Fez Hand & Body Balm, which is the second product in her line with the Moroccan-inspired scent. I knew it was going to be solid – she makes effective and nourishing skin care – but it is truly INSANE. I’m certain my eyes bugged out of my head a bit when I got all balm-fanatic on Katharine. Balms I go bananas for as is but balms that take on the Kahina Fez scent I go crazy for. It is unbelievably sexy. In that perfect way that isn’t trying too hard – it just is, ya know? Fez is an exotic mix of spice and femininity and completely unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. Rose and citrus layered with patchouli, sandalwood, ylang ylange, cumin and clove. Sex-ay! I need this to be a perfume (err…hint hint) but in the meantime take great pleasure in massaging the velvety rich balm on my skin. As soon as you dig your mitts in there you can fill the texture start to melt. There’s a heavy dose of argan oil, which is Kahina’s signature,  calendula oil to calm skin, carrot seed oil, shea and mango nut butters and coconut and olive oils. I use it sparingly – but always on my neck and chest so I can breathe in that Fez goodness!

Photos by Lindsay

Introducing…312 Beauty 2.0


Oh, but wouldn’t you like to know what I’ve been up to? Well, I can finally show you!

I’m grinning big today because 312 Beauty 2.0 is here. We got a makeover! A major one that I poured my heart and energy into for the past two months. What do you think?!

After nearly two years of blogging, I wanted to shake things up a bit to be more reflective of me. Everything you see here has meaning. The detail in the logo even has a story. Beauty isn’t prescriptive and the lines, diamonds and dots in the ‘312’ are a way to communicate that there’s no one right way to do anything. In life and makeup. We’re all different sizes and shapes in every way – eyes, lips and face included.

There’s also been a million advances in responsive design and I needed to get with the times. Check me out on your phone or tablet – it’s on a whole nutha level thanks to my dear friend Lindsay. She’s the muscle behind all of this – my brand strategist, designer, developer, photographer and counselor in life. Full service, indeed!

LL Raise the Roof

I’ve got raise the roof level of excitement going on! If you’ve got a few, check out my manifesto (yup – throwing down some 312 Beauty-isms!), the dedicated 312 categories for my Chi babes and the uber functional and easy to navigate drop down menus that stay fixed at the top as you scroll. We be fancy now.

Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you like nouveau 312 Beauty as much as I do. I’m proud of this baby!

P.S. The cheeky bag is from BeautyCounter.

How Bazar


One of the most beautiful boutiques in all of Chicago is certainly diptyque in Bucktown. And, ya know, it happens to smell pretty nice in there, too. I stopped in there a few weeks ago to peek at the new 34 Collection, an homage to the original diptyque at 34 Saint Germain in Paris. The vibe was different, in a good way. I was surprised to see colorful and vibrant patterns of cards and notebooks, fragrance diffusers shaped as birds, a marbled clay candle, bronzed candle holders and the most perfect vintage-esque bottle of perfume that looked like it could have been plucked from Catherine Deneuve’s vanity in the 60s. Note on the latter – in prepping for this collection, they went on a massive treasure hunt to source the bottle and found one of the only master glassmakers in France still working traditionally by hand. The collection ‘Le Bazar’ is a modern take on diptyque’s market-like beginning. Before I even stepped in the boutique I was welcomed by the scent of the Le Redoute candle, a reincarnation of the potpourri filling the air on opening day at 34 Saint Germain. Like most diptyque candles, it’s a bold aroma that can envelop your entire home immediately. This is a good thing — I put it to test at my house! It’s a cozy woodsy scent made of cinnamon, clove, orange, rose, cedar and amber. The mat porcelain exterior is special, albeit a departure from the diptyque aesthetic I love so much. Each candle is made by hand using a mixed clay method which makes them all one-of-a-kind. But really, it’s the stories and creativity behind every item in this collection that stands out.

Are Belly Rings Happening Again? Not So Fast.


My niece is turning 18 today. Which is wild –  more so for my sister, I’m sure. The age difference between me, my niece and sister is exactly the same. I’m smack in the middle of a fierce 40+ and a smart and grounded 18 year old. I of course asked my niece what 18 year olds these days are doing to celebrate their new found legality. For me, it was getting my belly button pierced. But that was ’99-2000 and Britney Spears was my role model. The Britney influence was very real. However, the mere suggestion of a belly piercing to today’s Midwestern teenager elicited a firm, almost repulsed, “I don’t want that done.” And to counter, if she did, I would probably advise against. Does anyone really want a belly ring, banging bod or not? It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve even worn mine (though, the proof of its existence never really goes away, #truth). Which really brings me to a question that has been on my mind for a few months now.  If belly button rings aren’t happening, why is Maria Menonous so obsessed with hers?  A shiny gold star, no less.  I see this thing everywhere and it jumps (no, shoots!) out at me. She can be seen bare midriffing on the cover of her new fitness book. In a massive spread in the October issue of Shape. She looks incredible and fit, for sure, but I’m puzzled by the belly jewels. I really truly am. She’s professional, in her mid-30s and wearing a belly ring. All things that, for me, don’t naturally go together. I’m genuinely tripped up by this and more curious than anything on how long she’s been with piercing. Because if it was around the time of the Britney effect, then she deserves some sort of lifetime achievement award.

And, as it turns out, my niece would like to gamble. To that, I say, girl, go buy yourself a scratch off on the way to school.

photo credit

More Than Makeup

La Bella Figura

Every time I break out I curse a little bit. There’s usually a bit of why me anguish – because it always appears in the most unfortunate of places – and then the blame game. I’m always looking for a logical explanation and usually there is one. Starts with chem and ends with cal. Out of this cycle is an emerging trend that my La Bella Figura ladies are dominating, along with Kjaer Weis, RMS and Gressa: Skin care first, makeup second. Enough with that blemish biz! Let’s be good to our faces. When I was in LA last month for A Night for Green Beauty, LBF officially launched their makeup filled with vitamins, minerals, omegas and breathable waxes that do not clog pores. Each color wears flawlessly on the face and lips and can be as vibrant and bold as you want it to be.

La Bella Figura Makeup

The colors are cheekily named for their friends and family. There’s Lisette La Coquette after LBF co-founder Victoria’s sister. She’s a Chicago girl, too! And having met her a few times I can see why this ruby crimson lip tint bears her name. Her deep olive skin rocks this color like a boss. Last Friday I met Just Jenna and now definitely connect that cheery orchid hue for lips and cheeks with her bubbly personality. Oh, and if you were at A Night for Green Beauty, it was hard to miss the fabulous Brazillian Denise at the LBF table. May we all take on a little bit of Denise’s persona with this gold highlighter that also doubles as eye shadow. You can see tons of #morethanmakeup pics on Instagram. Including this one by yours truly!

Real Soaps > Other Soaps

Real Soaps

Real Soaps understands this girl’s need for a refreshing cocktail and an invigorating body scrub. Bonus points for delivering them at the same time. The Tom Collins Scrub is a morning maker made by the artisanal master Shamus McClain of Real Soaps. The soap is made with actual gin botanicals from Chicago’s Letherbee Distillers and there’s lemon, lime, ground coriander, anise and juniper. Don’t you just want to get down with this soap right this very moment? Me too!


Shamus keeps it real from his home in Pilsen, a.k.a. the “Soap Lab. He uses a cold-process method to produce small batches of Real Soaps — and balms, salts, scrubs and beard oils. The demand for his form of realness is ever present as evidenced by this emerging empire of zest. Central to his brand is a mission to repurpose and recycle as much as possible in the making process. The conscious approach to creating is something I admire. I snapped the above pics during a recent West Elm pop-up a few weeks ago. Shamus was so genuinely happy to be selling his wares and enthusiastically telling me about stuff in the works. Two words: salt soap.

Real Soaps is available to all on Etsy and available all over Chicago. Do yourself a solid and go check out the line at Alapash. Shamus spends a few days a week working at the shop with Marco. And, if you’re in Chicago this coming weekend, The 12th Annual Renegade Craft Fair is coming to Wicker Park. Shamus will be there with Alapash & Dallas Maynard Jewelry at booth #235.

P.S. Share the Real Soaps love as they take on Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards!

September Mantra

September Style

Labor Day came especially quick this year and no, I’m not at all ready for it to be actually fall. However, I like what Labor Day signifies. It’s a new start. A giant reset button, if you will, filled with a month full of feelings usually reserved for December 31. Personally, I’m hopeful for new beginnings and a fresh perspective to carry me through the rest of 2014. I’m embracing all of the September feels in a real way. I’m also kicking off a new project with Lindsay of White Oak Creative today for 312 Beauty. I owe you all a fresh perspective here, too. Cannot wait! In that vein, let’s talk how these pretty picks will really up my September game.

Birds of a Feather Notebook – I just want to pour my thoughts and inspiration into the pages of these Rifle Paper Co. notebooks. Starting with the swans. Because why not? // Urban Decay Naked2 Basics – There’s never too much a good thing with this eye shadow franchise and I’m all about these taupey mattes. It’s inevitable that I will own this at some point this month. // Fig + Yarrow Cleansing Nectar – I’m really feeling the simple aesthetic of this line I’ve been trying out. I’m always up for inventive ways to wash my face and this liquid toner style is effective and gentle. // Deco Lariat NecklaceI love the delicate vintage brass (faux) lariat chain by my gal Michelle. // YSL Rouge Volupte in Beige Ultimate – Lindsay and I are both jonesing for this mauve-hued lipstick. It feels just fall enough without going all berry. // Kiehl’s Micro Blur PerfectorWhen September wraps, I should have smoother skin according to Kiehl’s. // Slinky Space Dye SkirtBooties and skirts – especially this cozy looking Lou & Grey one – are my September jam.

Argan Oil Is Always a Good Idea


I am a full-fledged beauty oil devotee and I will speak at length about how it has changed my skin for the better. But, even I wasn’t sure how oil would fly as a blush. I mean, doesn’t that just seem like a slippery disaster in the making? As it turns out, no. It’s a pretty fab reality. Josie Maran is creating makeup with Argan Oil in more nontraditional ways and the Creamy Lip and Cheek Oil is a prime example.  Stays in place and gives a dewy pinch of color. It starts as a cream then melts into a sheer oil when it warms to your skin. There’s Argan Oil (obvs) but also butters from sunflowers and tangerines so the smell is citrusy and uplifting. To minimize the dew a smidge you can also use a brush to stipple on.  But I recommend going full dew. Limitless Pink is a soft and feminine hue that makes me feel precious but Boundless Berry and Always Cherry bring out my sassy side. Speaking of which, someone told me that I share similar face characteristics to Eva Green and now I’m all BRING EM OUT. Right? What a compliment.  I’m totally channeling this persona. Always Cherry it is! Besides the loveliness it imparts on my cheeks it is also a divine soak of moisture on the lips. A major feat since so many lip and cheek products never quite deliver on both fronts.

The 3-Minute Face


After too many trips with an overstuffed makeup bag, I’ve reached the conclusion that less is more. Summer brings out the simplistic side of me. I was in Minneapolis last week working, visiting family and going to Katy Perry concerts (so so fun!)  That was basically a two hour dance party with my favorite girlies in the world. It was also the first concert for two of my nieces and their energy was so contagious. 12 year-olds really know how to have a good time.

During the concert, there was some mascara and a little eye shadow but the rest of the weekend was mostly a few complexion products. The humidity was in full force in the ‘sota so bareMinerals Bare Skin Serum Foundation was a savior. I have been wearing this a ton all summer. I give the bottle a few good shakes and then squeeze a few drops onto the Face Perfecting Brush – which holds excess foundation like a reservoir. When you press down on the brush, you get more coverage. It’s as genius as you think. I spend about 60 seconds buffing it onto my face by sections. I’ve completely abandoned all of my tried and true luminizers for the Kjaer Weis Radiance highlighter. It’s a silvery taupe that lights up my face. I also use it as eye shadow – so convenient! And, for a non-bronze take on the summer staple, I’ve been using Bobbi Brown Telluride Illuminating Bronzer. Yes, a bronzer that isn’t quite a bronzer. It’s more dusty rose but it gives my skin a healthy glow. And, that’s what I call a good use of three minutes.

You Are What You Eat


I’m not ready to completely debrief on this yet but I’m in the middle of a semi-cleanse that is working. I say semi because I allow alcohol on my cleanses. IT’S SUMMER! And who are you people that can give that up?!  I started this cleanse on accident and I’ve just being winging it ever since. I’ve essentially ditched most carbs and am going heavy on juice, lean protein and fruits and veggies. It may be the longest I’ve ever been able to stick with a plan and I’m feeling great. Like suspiciously great given I’m avoiding nearly all of the things I love. I’ve even tapped into this spiritual side of myself that makes decisions based on energy and vibes. I find myself saying yes more and being very cheerful at times I should be a basket case. We really are what we eat, no doubt. Now seems like the appropriate time to tell you about the new Ellovi Tinted Lip Butter. Isn’t she purty? It’s a sheer red tint that comes from the red root of alkanet, a Mediterranean flower. The color is barely there but gives lips a little something extra. Like you just bit your lips and got a natural flush.  Ellovi is built on a very simple premise – your skin is like a sponge so let’s only give it the most pure and nutritional ingredients. There are three products in the line, the Tinted being the latest, and each has only six ingredients. And the best part = a tube is only $5.

Looking Good in Dem Jeans



Jeans are the barometer for how we feel about our weight. Don’t you agree? I have skinny jeans – the attainable pair that acts as a benchmark. And there’s the skinny jeans that make me feel thin no matter my weight. Those are the best.  I really should just ditch the skinny skinnies but there’s something in my subconscious that keeps me hanging on with every closet purge. When they fit, I feel unstoppable and that’s a feeling that I’m not willing to donate to the Salvation Army.

Channeling that awesome feeling this week with some picks that go well with denim.

Madewell – First, about dem jeans. Those skinny no matter what jeans I wear are the High Risers. They are beyond slimming and never stretch out. Madewell says they do life altering things for the rearview and I ain’t mad at that claim. // Snakeskin Sneaks – These go great with denim – cutoff or full leg. // Lashes – My mom bought me the L’Oreal Butterfly mascara for my birthday and it’s knocked off the Falsies as my favorite drugstore mascara. The wand is angled and thicker on one side so lashes in your outer corner get crazy long and plumped up. // Denim Dress – Hello, fall uniform. // Lipstick QueenJean Queen – For 20 years, Poppy King was asked what’s the perfect shade to wear with jeans so she finally created one. It’s a universally flattering pink that lights up your face and offsets the blue in the fabric. // Bumble Thickening Dryspun Finish – This replicates a professional blowout with just a few spritzes and tousles of the hair. A good hair day is the perfect complement to jeans. // Michelle Starbuck Chain Bracelet – I am outfitted heavily with Michelle’s vintage brass, denim or otherwise. // RMS Beauty Eye PolishI typically keep the blues to my jeans, but I need to try this silvery blue cream shadow from RMS.

Free Mani in a Hot, PrettyQuick Minute!

PrettyQuick Laurie Leopold List of things ain’t nobody got time for?

  1. That.

OK, I actually saw that on Pinterest this week and it gave me a very near and dear chuckle. In that vein, let’s wrap up this week with a quickie beauty update.  A “PrettyQuick” one, that is.  I’m thrilled to join the Chicago-based PrettyQuick team as their beauty editor. I’ll be sharing all of my favorite spots around Chicago to get nails did, hair blown, muscles whacked and brows tweezed. Is this my favorite job ever? Perhaps. We share an ideology. PrettyQuick is the Uber of beauty services, helping the time-deprived women of Chicago book appointments at Chicago’s best salons and spas. Instead of calling and hunting down services, book in just a few clicks at PrettyQuick. While it works for the planners getting their appointments lined up well in advance, you can also book with just a few hours’ notice. You can narrow in by neighborhood, service and even actual location if you have a go-to. They house your payment info so when you leave your appointment, you are set and on your way. I appreciate that part so much because I am so bad at living the “cash only” life. Oh, and since I’m on the inside now, I have a little intel about a PrettyQuick app and rewards program in the works. Aww, yeah…

Now for the really fun part!

PrettyQuick Promo

PrettyQuick is offering first time users a free mani! Just sign-up, enter the code 312beautyblog and you’ll get a $15 credit in your PrettyQuick account. Chicago friends, seize the mani!

*NOTE: If you are redeeming the $15 credit please make sure to input “312BeautyBlog” 

The First Ingredient is Love

Kypris Beauty

It’s hard not to come back from A Night for Green Beauty and be thinking of anything but A Night for Green Beauty. So let’s not just yet, k? One of the many incredible moments I had during those few days in LA was being introduced to Kypris Beauty. The name stems from Greek mythology and the line also happens to be other worldly divine. For those in tune with prehellenic times, the goddess Kypris is actually Cypriot and was able to maintain her divinely feminine goddess roots even after Cyprus was conquered many times over and in spite of the warring culture. The line is made of three serums to combat skin issues – hydration, aging, blemishes – and three beauty elixirs to pamper you like a goddess. My favorite elixir being 1,000 Roses because obviously the essential oils of 1,000 Bulgarian roses. Swoon.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

I knew I would like the products, and I did immediately, but I’m so drawn to the energy of Kypris and founder Chase Polan. Kypris is about beauty with a soul supported by science. It’s effective, yes, but there’s a story. For starters, the first ingredient in every product is love. As in, printed on the label and listed up top. L-O-V-E. For any other brand, that may come across as disingenuous but not for Kypris. I had an exchange with Chase on Instagram about Antioxidant Dew – a hydrating serum meant for city types trying to rise above all of that pollution and stress on the skin – and she recommended I mix a few drops with a beauty elixir to make a micro emulsion. For good measure, she also told me to if I really want to do the “whole shebang” to give myself an “honest compliment” when applying so I start the day feeling like a million bucks. You know what…I did both and it felt great. I recommend chatting yourself up with a dose of positivity at early hours of the morning. Kypris just launched at BeauTeaBar this week. Naturally, Marissa is just as excited and is packaging up a special mini Antioxidant Dew with all Kyrpis orders through Sunday.