A Birchbox store, as in brick and mortar, just opened in Soho. Take me there!
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.
Summer is here, officially, and with it comes so much new beauty. There’s more to swoon over than just bronzer, though that will always excite me, too. Each and every one of these pretty newbies has me thinking of hot summer days and nights.
Sara Happ Clementine Lip Scrub – This sweet orange box is like a present for making it to June. The sweet citrus, sugar and oils are exactly what is needed to get your lips lipstick-ready. // Bumble & Bumble Invisible Oil Primer – This does for your hair what primer does for your face. So much promise in this bottle…less frizz, UV protection, detangles, less breakage. // Ruffian Endless Summer Collection – I so was hoping for one of these metallic polishes in my Birchbox. Each one is prettier than the next, but that blue…right? // Bobbi Brown Surf & Sand Eyeshadow Palette – Bobbi Brown is the master of nude eyeshadow and her summer twist is everything. That gold, dusty matte clay and all of those seashell pinks…I mean….perfect. // By Terry Cheek to Cheek – This is a brand new type of blush…a syrup, technically. I need to get myself over to Space NK stat to see what this is all about. // Lollibalm – Benefit done did it again with a balm version of their iconic tints. This is a brand that knows how to please. // One Love Organics Gardenia Body Serum – This is summer southern charm in a bottle. The spray nozzle ensures a fine mist to give your body the right amount of dewy glow.
I’m off to a desert adventure this week! It will be my first trip to Palm Springs and I’m pretty happy to be making it with the Clementine Daily ladies. This whole desert heat thing is always a foreign feeling to my body. I’m not quite sure what 112 degrees will feel like but I imagine it will be an outdoor sauna. Lack of humidity = better hair days, yes? I’m packing light for this one.
Every summer vacay needs at least one beach read. I joined in on Birchbox’s virtual book club and The Vacationers is first up. // I’ve been wearing Target’s mix and match bathing suits for years. I like this sporty navy combo. // On me, this Anthropologie Shibori Maxi Dress drapes past my toes. It’s a light and flowy stunner with a lower back cutout that hits at a very flattering area. // Yes, these Madewell sandals again. I wear them with everything! // A new Fresh Sugar! The bright pink Tulip is perfect for summer. // I actually have about three different forms of SPF packed. For my body, it’s the natural Yes to Cucumbers. // I love the pattern on this floral tunic. The gauzy texture makes for the perfect beach cover up and it looks pretty good with skinny jeans, too (for cool Chicago nights, that is!)
You know what goes really great with a bright lip or nail polish? Black and white. White jeans are awesome. Black dresses on repeat. It’s my favorite duo always but especially in the summer. After all, these two are responsible for grey, which dominates my closet more than it should. I mean…stop me if I buy another grey tee. This week’s dose of pretty is inspired by this statement palette.
This Madewell Tunic with these striped sandals are perfection. I’ll be checking them out at Sam’s Madewell shopping party coming up in June. // I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of Benefit’s They’re Real Push-Up Liner…gel in pen form. Cool, right? // Essie Blanc = classic. // A few pinches of Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder teased into hair gives crazy easy volume. // I discovered the Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser in the Birchbox FEED Box and find it to be really effective at getting all of the grit and makeup off my face. // I’m beyond curious to try the OCC Color Correcting Lip Balm Duo. The white side primes and slightly lightens your natural lip shade while the black defines (without adding color). // Yes, you do want to smell like an Olsen. MK and Ash’s foray into fragrance via the Elizabeth and James line is incredible. Nirvana Black and Nirvana White can be worn separately but are somehow better together. How very twin.
In honor of Earth Day, which is officially going down tomorrow, this week’s pretty picks are extra eco-conscious. Or eco-awesome, as I’ve come to refer to the green beauty space. I used to be able to count the number of “clean” green beauty products I liked better than those with less than natural ingredients on one hand. Talk about a dramatic shift — and one that’s absolutely benefitted my body and home in the best way. Here’s what I’m loving/lusting for at the moment!
I trust Osmia Organics with my skin, plain and simple. It started with the spot treatment and now her gorgeous soaps — like this milky rose bar with actual rose petals! And, Osmia is releasing a special facial soap called Stracciatella (yes, like the ice cream) on Earth Day. // I can’t go back to plastic after drinking out of my beloved BKR for the past few months. Water tastes better in it – I swear! Loving this new black on black (named for the LBD!) bottle I spotted at BeauTea Bar. // Adoring these tubes of vegan lip balm from Meow Meow Tweet Tweet in combos like tangerine lime and grapefruit and clove. // This tasseled FEED x Birchbox bag gives 10 meals to hungry people around the world. // Rahua’s organic hairspray volumizes and holds hair in place, without alcohol or any aerosols. // Habit nail polish, with its sustainable bamboo cap, has myrrh extract to strengthen nails. // Dr. Alkaitis Beautifying Mask has raw cacao powder and an edible clay to exfoliate and detox skin. Yum! // Adina at S.W. Basics started selling reusable cotton rounds (of the organic, unbleached variety!) to go with her awesome line of products that are best served up on cotton pad or ball. The set of 8 even comes with its own laundry sachet.
I’ve traded in volumizing spray and the hair dryer for hair serum and a microfiber towel. That combo for me is just as effective so long as I do not go to bed with wet hair. Kinks for days, literally. Freedom from the blow dryer has its downside, but this hair towel drops air dry time by hours…best ever. I’ve been putting Beauty Protector’s new Protect & Oil — which just launched in the Birchbox shop — to the test.
One pump applied post-towel but pre-air leads to shiny and glossy locks. The method to my avoid the blow dryer at all costs madness is to coat the ends first and tousle everywhere else with the leftover elixir in my hands. As it dries, my hair has volume and body for days…especially if I have anything to say about it. I feel similarly about washing my hair as I do blow drying. This elixir is lightweight and plentiful…I mean, that bottle has some ounceage. For the rest of you heat stylers (I join you in that when it’s time to curl my hair in the a.m.), Beauty Protector is designed to save your strands from damage. And if you’ve got the frizzies, you can even smooth a little onto dry hair. If you’ve ever received the Beauty Protector shampoo + conditioner in one of your Birchbox monthly deliveries, you’ll know exactly what the Protect & Oil smells like (delicious!)
Note: Birchbox provided a sample. All opinions are my own!
It’s usually one of my favorite birthday treats, a complimentary brow shaping from Benefit, but this year I skipped. For months, I’ve been leaving my brows just be. Resisting the urge to pluck and letting them grow to the point of unruly. At first, it’s really hard to do but with a little time (in my case – almost two months!) and patience you actually start to see results. My brows are sparse and cowlicky, so patience is hard to come by.
I was using this pencil until the folks at Birchbox majorly upped my brow game with Benefit Gimme Brow. If we’re verbing it — they wowed my brows. I’ve tried pretty much every type of brow filler there is with varying results. Wax, powder, gel, pencil, pen…but Gimme Brow is unlike any of them. It’s like brow extensions. You brush on – very conveniently with a tiny brush, I might add – gel fibers that resemble the look of actual hair. Brows don’t just look even, but full. Start at the inner corner and comb through the entire brow. So simple! I concentrate on the inner area towards my nose as that’s where my brows are at their most pathetic state. Your MO may differ.
Is there nothing more satisfying than watching a brow transformation — or as Benefit calls it, a browtification? You win with puns, Benefit. Also, these videos rock. After I watched four of them back to back, I realized the only thing missing from my makeup bag is High Brow.
Note: Birchbox provided a sample of Gimme Brow. The two cents here is all my own!
I’ve been favoring a more natural makeup look lately. I’ve rediscovered this palette and have been wearing minimal makeup on the rest of my face. The Pür Minerals 5-Piece Start Now Kit, which just launched in the Birchbox shop this week, could not have come to me at a better time. Hello heat wave, goodbye full face. The five items in this kit – primer, Pür Minerals 4-in-1 pressed mineral makeup, mineral bronzer, mascara and the ‘chisel’ complexion brush – help you get that coveted “no makeup makeup” look. Which BTW, always seems to take more time than makeup makeup. But not in this case. I remember interviewing this Chicagoan for 312 Beauties and hearing her rave about this sample she got in her Birchbox that helped her even out her skin in a natural way. Finally, I get it! Admittedly, I don’t wear a lot of powder because it seems to just sit on my face. However, Pür Minerals 4-in-1 feels invisible, thankfully, but still provides enough coverage. All you, chisel brush. A few sweeps of the mineral bronzer on my cheeks and in the crease of my eyelid plus two coats of mascara and I am successfully out the door, when everything but my face proceeds to melt. The real test was during a 3pm meeting when a coworker said I looked matte (in a good way). Done and done. Seems like this would be a great way to spend those Birchbox points you’ve been hoarding (I can’t be the only one who does that!)
The must-have nail wardrobe of the summer is most definitely the Color Club Wanderlust collection, which was developed exclusively for Birchbox. I first got the bright coral, Reign in Spain—all colors named for one of Birchbox’s international headquarters—in my June Birchbox delivery. And last week, Birchbox hosted an event at PUBLIC hotel with Astrowifey, Chicago’s queen of nail artistry, who did manis and nail art with the Wanderlust polishes.
Yes, my nails are bedazzled!
What’s most exciting about these colors is they are really unique, by design. Birchbox editor Meredith Stebbins explained to me how they sought to create colors that didn’t exist yet, testing a ton of different color variations to get it just right. You’ll notice the off-white shade, Mod in Manhattan (my favorite!) has a slight peach undertone. London Calling is a sunny green color unlike anything that I’ve seen before. Pardon my French is the perfect lavender. And the best part? You get the whole set for $8.
I am loving my Wanderlust mani – Mod in Manhattan with a Pardon My French chevron accent nail that Astrowifey freehanded in .2 seconds. She is incredible! For more of Birchbox in Chicago, check out the recaps (and awesome pics!) from CHICago Life Blog and Love Zahra.
Oh, Birchbox, you’ve done it again. Their newest garden-inspired, limited edition home box is filled with the cutest stuff — like a radish-printed utility knife and a delicious hand cream from Tocca! (The Small Things Blog)
By now you know BB Cream. But how about BB concealer? (The Glossarie)
Seeing is believing! Lipstick Queen just released a navy (yes blue) lipstick that Refinery29’s beauty editor tested on camera. It’s anything but navy on the lips and now I’m majorly intrigued. (Refinery29)
My nightstand just got a whole lot prettier, thanks to this adorable vanity tray from Life’s a Journal. I really appreciate the crafting skills (of others!) and when this grey ombre striped tray appeared in her Etsy shop, I couldn’t resist. I’m pretty meticulous about keeping the top of my nightstand organized, with just my phone, coaster (can’t go to bed without water!), alarm clock, glasses and lip balm on display. I’m not ready for bed until I’ve slathered hand cream on and a thick layer of balm. But the thing about that is it gets OOC fast. At one point, there was nearly a dozen tubes and pots piled up in a corner. Clutter on the nightstand leads to stress-y dreams. I’m sure there’s a connection somewhere, right?
With this cute vanity tray, I feel an open invite to display my lip wares. As many as it will fit, which as it turns out is plenty. There’s totally room for more, but I’m doing this whole spring cleaning thing, ya know. Editing my life and all that jazz.
What is on display is special to me. I’ve gone through many tubes of the AHAVA Dermud and love how soft it is on my hands. The smell is soothing to me and it’s so engrained in my nightly routine that I pretty much exclusively associate the aroma with sleepytime now! One of my most treasured splurges is the By Terry Baume de Rose. I use it sparingly because it was definitely an indulgent treat. I bought the NUXE Reve de Miel on a trip to Paris with my husband, and the texture of that is wildly different than any other balm, in a good and interesting way. The little tub of MOX Botanicals Lip Butter is so weighty and fancy — a Birchbox discovery I made (the Pomegranate + Fig scent is exclusive to their shop!) The two I usually take off of my nightstand and in my purse are the Jouer Lip Enhancer and Vapour Organic Lux Lip Conditioner — they are both daily staples for me.
What’s on your nightstand? A fellow hoarder of moisturizer?
I was excited to see the Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Shampoo in my March Birchbox. This video of Serge himself transforming Birchbox founder Katia’s hair with this product will be my hair to-do this weekend! (Birchbox)
How adorable is this mark pastel shadow palette for spring? (The Glossarie)
Bobbi Brown dishes on upcoming trends and the one item she thinks every woman needs in her makeup bag. (Nordstrom Beauty 24/7)
Another 312 blogger that can’t get enough of facial oils…and her post on La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil is a must-read. (Seed to Serum)
Love glittery polish but hate removing it? Here’s an interesting remedy… (Refinery29)
Mozzarella bar? Gnocchi with truffle cream? I need to get myself to Siena Tavern stat – the new Chicago restaurant from Top Chef’s Fabio. (Chi Gal Lauren)
I’m rolling out a new feature here, fittingly called 312 Beauties. I’ll be tapping some of Chicago’s most fabulous women to tell me of all of their beauty secrets and dish on makeup must-haves. I’m excited to kick off the series with Rachel Gillman, a PR Specialist and Freelance Writer for NBC, Michigan Avenue and Serious Eats. Rachel is the ultimate media pro and knows all when it comes to BYOB and gluten-free dining in Chicago. She also has the most enviable lashes you’ll ever see. Lucky for us, she tells all.
How do you start your mornings?
I’ve learned that I do better working out in the a.m. Two mornings a week at 6am, I’ll do the elliptical or an Insanity or P90X video in the living room. On those mornings, I’ll wash my hair. I usually aim to wash my hair every other day. A trick — which you taught me! — is to go to sleep with my hair twisted on top of my head in a clip. It’s a game-changer! It makes two-day hair full and fresh looking. It’s a major time saver in the morning.
You have flawless skin. What is your skin care routine?
I use Cetaphil cleanser, though if I get something in a Birchbox, I always try it out. I use Lancome Bi-Facil to remove my eye makeup. I stock up on it when I buy mascara, whenever there’s a free gift at the counter. I was really hooked on Chanel skin care, the Hydra Beauty Crème, but I haven’t made the effort to splurge all over again on a new tub. Occasionally, I rotate Retin- A into my routine. I recently got a facial at Cellular Intelligence spa and bought the Lumiere Bio Restorative Eye Cream on a recommendation. It’s very light, and I use it every morning. I use Neutrogena SPF 50 as well, especially if I know I’ll be out in the sun. I’m more concerned about protecting my skin lately.
How about your everyday face?
I use a concealer from Benefit and then follow up with this Pür Minerals powder I got from Birchbox — it’s more matte and it helps even my skin out. A makeup artist at the Chanel at Bloomingdales, Ana Oveido, sold me two of the Quadra Eyeshadows in Mystic Eyes and Prelude and taught me how to use all four shadows together or take it down with just one or two. She is fantastic. I’m pretty particular when it comes to my makeup being done because you know what looks like you and what you’re comfortable wearing. She takes everything I do and improves upon it. I use those eyeshadows pretty much every day. And when I feel like I’ve done a good job and I’m near the Bloomingdale’s building, I’ll go and visit her and she’ll tell me how I did!
I also use Chanel eyeliner, in the shade Cassis. You twist it up, so it’s not a true pencil. It’s precise, lasts and really lets you get in between your lashes. My blush is Laura Mercier Pink Lotus and I use NARS Risky Business Lip Gloss. I also carry around a CO Bigelow tint with me always. A great makeup artist Jenny Patinkin (of Dollface Beauty) coached and shopped with me for makeup. I trust her judgment. She helps you create a better version of yourself. I fill in my brows with an Anastasia Powder. Jenny helped me pick that out as well. I just use a little bit.
Now about those lashes…
I am obsessed with Lancome mascara – completely loyal to the Hypnose Drama. I buy it two tubes at a time because I never want to be without. I’ve used something from Tarte and another from Sephora but I always go back to Lancome. The amount of time I spend on my lashes could be considered comical. I curl them to start and put on a coat. Not a wimpy one, either, but from the base and I coat every lash. I let it dry, do some other makeup and then come back. I’ll curl my lashes again, use a lash comb to separate and then apply one more coat. It never clumps. The Lancome brush is magic.
Rachel’s lip wardrobe
I love Birchbox, too. What are some of your favorite discoveries?
Let me tell you, this $10 a month service fuels my beauty routine. Some of my favorite items have come from Birchbox. I love the Jouer Lip Enhancer – I need to buy a big tube! Also, I love this chubby Tarte lip pencil in a coral shade. I also got the Benefit primer, POREfessional, and I’m pretty hooked. It helps smooth my skin before makeup. I love anything skin-related they send.
What is your beauty splurge?
I really have no problem spending money on my hair, but for some reason I do on my skin. I should probably reverse that! I love my hair stylist. I get my hair cut about every three months by Ingrid Trevino at Nancy Angelair on Rush Street. I’ve followed Ingrid around to three salons. Her blowouts are second to none and she cuts wavy hair so well. I can’t go much longer than three months because my ends get so damaged from heat and styling.
I’ve been using this donut lately to create the perfect bun. It requires a little effort but is so worth it. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding recently and they styled my hair with it so I just held onto it after the wedding. I don’t like too sleek of a look. Just a little bit messy when I wear my hair up.
Where have you been eating lately?
I probably eat out about five nights a week (research!) My favorite sushi restaurant right now is Kai Zan. It’s BYOB, which is one of my favorite ways to dine. Yuzu has really good maki rolls. I’m on a whiskey kick at the moment, and am enjoying cocktails in a new way with darker spirits. I had this drink called Cocktail at Billy Sunday – potent but very drinkable.
Grange Hall Burger Bar has a gluten-free bun. When I want a true burger experience, that’s my go-to. Bountiful Eatery in Lakeview is a great, healthy gluten-free cafe. They have these pita wraps with portabella mushrooms or bison burgers inside. It’s affordable and tasty. Prasino is my favorite brunch right now. They have a hippie omelet that is worth looking forward to all week!
Think about how important a serum is for your face. All of those antioxidants and free radical fighters. It’s definitely an important step in my daily get-up. You guys, city air is bad news. Free radicals are everywhere – little particles that want nothing but to age us prematurely. I’ve waged a full on war. I live in fight free radical combat mode and have diverted some of that energy to my body. Moisturizer and SPF (when you’re not wearing everything you own at once, i.e. winter) are a given, but since discovering One Love Organics Aromatic Body Serum my skin looks and feels smoother. No small feat in the winter.
One Love Organics Founder Suzanne LeRoux designed this product especially for the body using potent natural actives and a blend of organic plant oils. The ammo of Pumpkin Seed and Sea Buckthorn oils work together to exfoliate, tighten and nourish skin. The spray nozzle is super convenient and my skin drinks this serum up. While I’m partial to the Rose, each Aromatic Body Serum has something special to offer.
Rose: Rose essential oil is often known as a natural anti-depressant and helps open the heart
Chamomile: Chamomile essential oil helps to comfort the spirit and boost self-control
Neroli: Neroli essential oil induces happiness, while promoting energy and playfulness
Lavender: Lavender essential oil helps ease tired muscles while inspiring the spirit