Tag Archives: Chicago

Scratch Goods for Friendships

We should grab a drink sometime….

I think we all know the universal meaning of this phrase lives somewhere between I’d prefer not to and I don’t care if I ever see you again. It’s a vague offering reserved for acquaintances and people that don’t fit into your life anymore. If I catch myself saying it out of instinct or obligation, I stop.

Maintaining real friendships in your 30s (and beyond) is about prioritizing your time and energy on relationships that fulfill you.  A friend of mine a few years ago made it a point to spend time with friends over a workout. I still love this but there’s less time to chat and catch up.

Me, I like to self-care with friends. And there’s the absolutely perfect spot for that in Chicago. A place where the pothos are flowing in addition to the drinks (if you BYO): Scratch Goods, a DIY mask bar, Chicago’s first, in the West Loop.  I booked a chair with a dear friend for a mask bar session on a Saturday and we enjoyed an hour of cleansing, masking and moisturizing. I think we both even squeezed in between all of that! Seriously, this place is self-care heaven. There’s spoolies to groom your lashes and brows with serum, hot towels that appear magically and even a jade rolling portion on the agenda.

Scratch Goods can be a dangerous place to go to because you enter such a zen state that you immediately want to buy everything you can to recreate it at home.  And, you can, since they sell everything they use in the mask bar. We both snatched up the Dark Matter coffee-infused Eye Butter and the Jasmine Rose Skin Drink, which I flew through in record time because I was addicted to the smell but also the feeling of peace it brought to my atmosphere. Now that I’m out, I think it’s time to schedule another date, aka, let’s grab a mask sometime…

The Must Try Facial Treatment: Dermalinfusion

This is me, 48 hours post-Dermalinfusion. Yes, my face is makeup-free. And, yes, I freed the nip, too. After what felt like a very Real Housewives treatment, this bare state I stayed in for a weekend was quite the opposite.

You’ve heard of microderm, right? Dermalinfusion is in the same family, in that they are both skin resurfacing treatments. The difference is in method and it makes a world of one. Dermalinfusion exfoliates as microderm does but at the same time it is extracting dirt and bacteria out of your pores it’s also infusing serum directly into the epidermal layers of skin. It’s a non-invasive treatment using a recessed diamond tip – it’s pushed back a bit so you’re not getting that direct abrasion on skin – to exfoliate and extract using closed-loop vacuum pressure. Everything that is sucked out of the skin goes into this jar that you get to look at after your service. Sound satisfying? Because it is. Especially that last part.

This is probably one of the more intense facial treatments I’ve had but the aftermath was easy. Intense in terms of exfoliation, not sensation. You know how some people say facials break them out? The ‘purge’ if you will. I won’t deny I’ve had facials that my skin reacted negatively, too. I had a peel so intense about eight years ago that gave me a nasty bout of contact dermatitis. Facials are traumatic by their very nature. That’s why half of the time of facials is spent putting moisture back in to the skin. This is probably one of the biggest differences with Dermalinfusion – it eliminates the time gap between exfoliation and moisture application. Envy Medical, the makers of this treatment, say by infusing serum into skin before the wound-healing phase begins, skin is able to absorb and receive the serum at a deeper level.  We’re talking four ounces of serum getting delivered deep into the skin. One of the reasons I was so excited to try this because it’s billed as a skin volumizer —- post treatment, skin is 70% volumized.

The plumping effect only lasts about three days, but the long-term payoff treats dark spots, hyperpigmentation, dry skin, acne, rough skin and fine lines. The before and after shots they showed me of people who had up to six treatments every two weeks were insane.

My favorite part of the treatment was checking out the waste jar — blobs of oil and dirt from your pores. It’s diluted with some of the serum that gets sucked back from the tool but shine a light on it and you can totally see the floaties.

Envy Medical offers this services at spas and derms nationwide — there’s a locator on the website — and I had it the Waldorf Astoria Chicago Spa. They’ve got a number of treatments that include it, ranging from 30-minutes for $180 and 60 or 90 minute services that range from $280 to $350.

T-O Baby

A few weeks ago, I did a morning segment on The U, a local morning show in Chicago. If you’re so inclined to watch me be really enthusiastic very early in the a.m., here’s the segment. After talking about foundations for a few minutes, the host asked me what my blog was all about. I knew the question was coming and recited my usual script of beauty discovery with a Chicago filter. But is that me still? I don’t believe so and I think it’s a good thing. If we’re being honest, I no longer strive to be constantly trying what’s new or “trending.” Sometimes what’s trending is awesome but it isn’t what’s driving my interests. Beauty ADD is just that for me.

This is an internal dialogue I’ve been having for awhile. Like six months awhile. It’s why it’s been a minute since my last post. I guess I hit pause. I’m coming out from underneath it but I wanted to let you in on what I’ve been feeling.

This feels like an eternity ago but it’s really where this started. I was hanging out with two girlfriends—one a blogger and the other a former blogger turned normal human (l-o-l).  This was about six months ago, just before the holidays. I was tired. Really just not feeling it anymore. I couldn’t articulate a single source of my fatigue but it was a convergence of everything, blog and beyond: Career, love, friendship, family. I felt like I was aimlessly wandering about without a clear grasp of purpose. I wasn’t seeking an immediate solve but I tend to be impatient so declared at that moment that I was “over blogging.” It was a question as much as it was a declaration.

I knew I was uninspired and reactive. I didn’t feel like I was doing it for me. Deep down, I love that this space is mine, though. So where’s the disconnect? I lamented that being a blogger is synonymous with manufactured living in so many ways. I let my fatigue of so much on the internet get to me. It’s one thing to be really tired of seeing other bloggers being salesy and forceful with another brand’s message and another to hang your hat up entirely. But it did give me pause.

Almost immediately after that dinner, I felt a sense of relief. I started to rethink my sense of obligation to anyone but me. Goodbye to email stress (j/k…email is always stress-y if I let it be), hello to more fun, spending my weekends doing what I want. You may wonder, isn’t that what we should always do? Yes, of course. But it’s really easy to get caught up on what you perceive you have to do for others. Perceive being the operative word. It didn’t take long to feel like me again and quickly led to rediscovering what I love about beauty blogging. I made new friends in the Insta beauty world, became a Glossier rep and started to figure out what I want to do on 312 Beauty that fits with who I am now. We get to evolve. It’s our right as humans.

I have always been true to me but I have let obligation drive how I spend my time and that’s not fair to anyone. For me, it’s resulted in a whole lot of unfinished projects and half-baked ideas. One of the immediate changes I’ve made is not to do anything sponsored and it feels great. It’s not a no forever but it’s right for now. The internet is full of clickbait and advice for advice sake. Thanks, but, you don’t need to be told what to buy and the phrase “I’m obsessed with” dulls with excess use. It’s exhausting.

One of things I wrote at the start of the year when thinking about 2017 was that we were hitting peak self-expression with beauty.

I’m a true believer that to get out of my head and create, I need to give myself some space. It’s why things have been quieter. I plan on hitting my stride soon. In the meantime, we can chat on Instagram where you’re sure to get at least a daily glimpse of a particularly cute Boston Terrier in addition to beauty stories.

Seize the (Leap) Day

field museum chicago

“I’m so excited to get an extra day of February,” said no resident of Chicago, ever (especially when that extra day is a Monday). It’s all too real for me after a week in Florida. Vacations always feel like sprints. Add in leap year to your reentry and the longest short month feels like a true marathon. It may be slow going, but I know we’ll eventually cross the finish line.

I’m prepping for the race this week with P&G Beauty. They’ve sent me a special care package made for marathon days (/leap months!) that I want to share it with you all (more on that below).

P&G beauty

Like it or not, Leap Year 2K16 is a go so, how about we like it? Novel concept, but I say we do something that we’ve been saving for a rainy day. Since Leap Day is a Monday, let’s say that “rainy day” is any day the rest of the month. You choose! How many times have you said you’d be a tourist in your own city? Go check out that new exhibit? Try that fried chicken Bloody Mary you read about. Whatever your “to do…someday” item is, I think a leap year is permission to finally cross it off the list.

So, here’s what I’m thinking.

olay body wash

Start the day with a shower. Obvs. Suds up with the new Olay Fresh Outlast Energizing Lime & White Tea Body Wash. It’s the latest addition to the Outlast collection – very fresh and citrusy and lingers on your skin throughout the day. Olay body washes are also really awesome in the winter because they don’t dry out your skin.  I won’t need to wash my hair because that’s not a daily thing for me however, on wash days I’ve been testing out the upgraded Pantene conditioners that allow you to take your hair past “the cutting point.” Think of this as a smart conditioner, targeting weak spots to repair and prevent damage sooner.  You can actually use the conditioner root-to-tip and it won’t weigh your hair down. This was an adjustment for me because I was taught very early to wash my hair and condition my ends. I’ve been trying the Sheer Volume variation and it keeps things smooth and shiny for the long stretches of time I go between washes.

chicago field museum

Next up: a day at the Museum. I am so guilty of never taking advantage of all of Chicago’s many cultural spots. Lucky for all of us in the Chicago area, February is filled with free days. The Field Museum – home to Sue! – is free the entire month. The Art Institute is always worth the price of admission, but it is also free Thursday evenings. I totally want to check out the new Van Gogh bedroom paintings. And, if you are actually making the most of February 29, the Adler Planetarium and Museum of Science and Industry are both free that day.

secret xtend

Say, you decide to really push the limits of your extra day and forget to reapply deodorant. Then you may be curious about the new Secret Outlast Xtend that continuously keeps you dry for 48 hours. Hoping some of you willing to try it out will let me know if that lives up.

I’m giving away 10 of every P&G product mentioned in this post. Leave a comment and 10 of you will get a special treat in the mail.* I’d love to hear about your leap day aspirations. Also, have you tried any of these products? Anything you love about them or you’re most interested in?

Oh, and aren’t you curious about the friend chicken Bloody Mary? It’s at Buck’s in Wicker Park and I just want to eat there for brunch every weekend.  That needs to be part of February, March, April…etc.

*P&G Beauty will fulfill the prizes. If you’ve previously won a P&G prize, rest assured, it should be arriving soon.

P&G Beauty sponsored this post. All thoughts and opinions my own – thanks for your continued support of 312 Beauty!

A New (to us!) Lip Tint to Love

Bucktown Love Mural

I’m feeling the l-o-v-e. I’m also giving out the love. I really think that a big smile is the best beauty move. Everything just kind of lights up. Not sure if you have a special date night coming up – there is Valentine’s Day to look forward to – but if you think you might be planning on doing some kissing, a no frills lip is just a strategic move. Right?

It’s why I have a feeling you will so be ready for this jelly. Vaseline Lip Therapy is now available in a tin. In the U.S.!  You can practically GPS your way to one using Vaseline’s locator. Previously, you had to somehow procure the tins from the U.K. but they are stateside now. The whole moisturizing, non-sticky (perfect for smoochin’) gang has arrived to Target – Original, Aloe, Rosy Lips and Cocoa Butter – and are a cool $4 apiece.

Vaseline Lip Therapy Tin Rosy

Vaseline Lip Tin Launch U.S.

Love Mural Chicago

312 Beauty

Vaseline’s Lip Tins rule date night. They actually rule everything. Rosy Lips is my favorite because it has a slight pink tint , It’s super subtle and perfect for accentuating your smile. It also helps seal in moisture so your lips don’t dry out – mission critical this time of year.

Vaseline Rosy Lips TinVaseline Rosy Lip Tins

I’ve been working on perfecting my date night makeup. If my makeup can sustain the day and walks outside, it most definitely can handle date night. Rosy Lips is just the right amount of lip color and I love to pair it with a bright pink cheek and plum eyeliner.

Vaseline Lip Therapy Tin

Ooh, and you can even stash it in your pocket for easy access!

What are your plans this weekend? Date night? Girl time? Or just you time? If you can manage to squeeze in all three, then you win.

This post was sponsored by Vaseline. All the love put into this was mine alone. Thank you for reading! 

Earn Your Stripes


If there’s one guiding principle that I’ve taken to heart this past year is there are no straight lines in life. There are bumps in the road, paths that end and new directions to explore.  Life really is a freaking journey not a destination and taking that to heart—really living that way—feels amazing.  I’m bringing back the pretty picks (how I’ve missed them!) with a homage to stripes. We all got to earn ours somehow and I’d like mine to be as non-linear as possible.

I read an interview with Chicago artist Laura Berger in Stay Wild Magazine and clung to every word. When they asked her what’s with all the “natural love and wild nakedness” in her illustrations, she had this to say: “It seems like our ideal and true nature—the way we all want to be, fully ourselves, with no ego, inhibition, or fear. It is when we are completely kind and open, allowing us to fully accept one another. It makes me feel good to paint people in that state.” Love it, girl. And this wavy striped Flow Print of Laura’s that brings out feelings of ease.

I love love love this t-shirt and how the stripes overlap from different angles. The cut is super flattering and it’s just more interesting than your average striped tee. Same goes for this LOFT midi dress. Doesn’t matter than I’m a mini, I still go for the midi….the length actually falls somewhere between that and a full on maxi.

Garance Dore x Rifle Paper. Still loving it all. Especially this iPhone case.

If there’s one thing NARS does extremely well it is cheek color. This dual palette is all the more interesting. You can use them wet or dry and layer the colors for a different look each time. So fun!

I’ve been layering my eye liner lately – go to being black over brown. It adds a little more depth.  It’s like Tarte knew that was going to be the jam and decided to make it all much easier on us.

Effortless in Spirit and Style

Laurie Leopold - 312 Beauty

Phone tucked in my purse. Boots strapped on and ready to walk. Eyes wide open. Effortless in spirit and style. This is how I take in the city. This is how I clear my head. And, my gosh, do I freaking love the invigoration I feel as my eyes gaze up and across the skyline. Every one of us has a daily grind. I feel the stress of mine melt away when I’m going from A to B. Taking a moment to observe the details in everything — the faces of others around you, the curves of skyscrapers, the stop and go of traffic—I can’t help but feel a sense of togetherness and pride. We all share a skyline. We all make this city great in our own way.

Chicago is filled with doers and makers.

Chicago Skyline

Michelle Starbuck Jewelry

Consider the doers. Like this group of teachers — Peggy, Amy and Jill — that have the patience and will to, well, teach in Chicago Public Schools. I admire their dedication, resilience and what they do for the little peoples. That can’t be an easy job, right? Collectively, we strapped on our boots (mostly…Jill  be doing her fabulous thing in red pumps), took in the skyline and let the stress unwind with some good old fashioned silliness and girl time.

Michelle Starbuck Designs

Effortless Style Chicago

Consider the makers. We are all wearing one of Chicago’s most talented jewelry designers – Michelle Starbuck Designs. Michelle is no stranger on my blog – I make my adoration of her known on the regular. Her ability to turn a vintage tile and a brass chain into something spectacular is incredible. Michelle’s creations lend themselves to any wardrobe but especially to my effortless ways. I’m wearing the Parrallelogram Studs and Hexagon Chain to complement this look. You could say this is my uniform. I have this tee – aptly named the ‘Effortless Tee’ in three colors and wear these Madewell boyfriend jeans constantly. I love the cuffed look with boots in the winter months. And, I’ve been toting along the Lo & Sons The Pearl Crossbody Bag since Christmas. It has so many zippered compartments – pure organizational bliss!

Remember when I wrote a manifesto? A cheeky one, for sure, but one of my favorite lines is about loving your city. So put your phones down, go for a walk, take in the details and let it love you back.

I saved the BEST for last. Michelle Starbuck is offering you something special starting today through the entire month of February: 20% off with code MSD20. Just enter it at checkout on her website.

I can’t possibly pick a favorite piece, but I wear the Super Chunky Chain 2.0 Bracelet almost every day and love her geometric stud earrings.


Photos by Erin M. Bassett

Time to Be Inspired

Be Inspired

It’s inspiration week. Or, so that’s what I’m calling it.  Someone told me that we’re seven weeks away from daylight savings time. This piece of knowledge got me thinking.  One: cause for excitement. Because it’s getting lighter every day until then! Two: these seven weeks are the time to really focus. They will go slow because that’s what winter does. Everything takes more time. Getting from point A to B. Even took me 10 minutes to get my dog outside for a one minute walk all week. Winter creeps in, makes you cold but also brings out clarity. More evening baths with nothing but steaming hot water and my thoughts to wander. Time to read. Time to write. Time to eat a lot of carbs. But, importantly, time to find inspiration. Kicking off the week today with a few inspiring pretty picks.

I met Chicago artist Laura Berger at the Renegade show last December. I picked up her 2015 calendar and had the best of intentions of gifting it but couldn’t actually part with it myself. I have it tacked up at work and it gives me a dose of inspo every day, at least three times.

I’ve recommitted to the #fitbitchclub (join me on Instagram under that #!) by signing back up for Classpass. I needed longer leggings (capris don’t cut it in these temps) and love Old Navy’s prints and patterns. The Compression Leggings are a steal! They wear comfortably and stylishly.

One of the most thoughtful Christmas gifts I got was from Lindsay. It looks like a book but inside the initialed exterior are blank pages. I plan to write this year – just for me – as a way to chronicle my year and thoughts.

Skin begs for some TLC this time of year. I’m pro-mask, on the regular.  La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask is this fantastic berry color and filled with manuka honey (tons of antibacterial enzymes), white clay, turmeric, Barbary fig seed oil and so much more that helps combat dry and irritated skin. It works moisturizing miracles.

Every night, I also give myself an eye mask. I dab a thick smear (which equates to the tiniest amount of actual product) of One Love Organics Vitamin E Eye Balm under and around my eye so it can depuff and hydrate while I sleep. I’ve nicknamed this the “10 years younger by morning” balm. It’s legit.

This is the time to finally decorate. I moved last fall and am slowly getting pictures on the walls. I have a darker aesthetic and finally found the perfect black matte frame for this Garance Dore print. It really balances the feminine nature of the picture.

Five Things I Learned From MAC Artist Keri Germain

Makeup by MAC artist Keri Germain

Chicago loves its MAC  Cosmetics. The proof is in the third free-standing retail space the cosmetics giant recently opened at The Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Ave. As far as MAC stores go, it’s pretty slick. Mirrors everywhere, a lash bar to please everyone’s falsie comfort level, wall-sized LED screens streaming  demos and even a hands-on “playtable” (that’s an official description.) There are also 25 in-house makeup artists on staff.  I had a little playtable sesh of my own recently with one of them:  the talented Keri Germain.

MAC Keri GermainThat’s Keri!

My strategy when getting artist time is to just soak up all their knowledge. My only agenda was glowy skin (always) and long lashes (again, always). The rest was in Keri’s hands and did girlfriend ever deliver! Talk about teaching an old dog new tricks. She reintroduced me to some classic MAC products that had fallen off my radar and dropped some tips on me that are changing how I do my makeup. I’ve got you curious now don’t I? Of course I’m spilling.

1. Strobe Cream is your bestie. Apply it before your makeup. Or, if you want, wear it instead of makeup. Unlike other highlighters, this is more of a light-reflecting moisturizer so it it’s more subtle. This has been a major morning-after saver after all of this season’s holiday parties. Sleep ain’t got nothing to do with the glow on my face.

MAC 187 Brush

2. One brush really can do it all. Keri used the #187 to sweep on the Strobe Cream, foundation, highlighter and blush. Building in that order actually helps. A little Strobe mixes in with your foundation and your highlighter melds with your complexion. And, color comes last.

3. Speaking of blush… we tend to apply right at the apples of our cheek. Keri says “no, no.” Instead, start further back so you don’t have a big blob of color concentrated so obviously on that part of your face. The duo-fiber brush helps make it more subtle and you can build it up as needed.

MAC 124 Brush

4. Have you ever used a fluffy brush to sweep eye shadow under your eyes?! Me neither, until Keri converted me. The key is to take a neutral not too much of a contrast to your skintone (for me – MAC Wedge or Soft Brown) and use a brush like the MAC #124 to blend it naturally. Even though you’re adding darkness to that area, somehow it works and gives balance to whatever look you’re rocking above the lash line.

5. Naked Pigment is the universal must-have. Keri sprinkled some on the lid and then pressed the same fluffly brush over it to pick up the color and sweep all over my lid. It added just the right amount of sheen. Keri tells me dark skin tones can even use this as a highlighter.

Oh, and a bonus rave from me? MAC Matchmaster Concealer is like a magic eraser! I love the stick formula and the colors blend to your skin tone. So, even if it isn’t a 100% match, it soon becomes one on your skin. I keep this in my purse now, always.

Guide to Gifting Bold

Holiday Gift Guide

Still finding the perfect gift for all on your list? Yeah, same. Though, I’m nearly finished. And, on that note, I’ve got the grand finale of my holiday gift guides to start the week. All about the bold with this one.

I’m a bookworm so naturally I think books are a great gift to give and receive. Lindsay recommended DVF’s memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, and I can’t wait to read.

#LikeaBoss is what happens when two of my favorite companies come together and make! Marissa of BeauTeaBar teamed with AILA Cosmetics to create the perfect rosy gold nail polish. It’s limited for the holidays and so special!

Meghan Lorenz is the bold designer behind Cities in Dust. Her work is edgy, interesting and the epitome of statement-making. I love her Throne Necklace – it’s unlike anything else.

When I discover things I love, I naturally want to share it with all of my friends (and all of you!)  Serge Normant Dream Big Volumizing Spray is the best hair texturizer, ever. It gives lift and texture for a major statement do. Give good hair this holiday.

Well, we know these diptyque candles are going to smell heavenly but how cool is that black matte? There are three different scents done in collab with designer Tomas Maier.

Simply the best headphones for women. Frends designs are edgy and the size is perfect for a tinier face. Other headphones are just so giant, ya know?

NARS created a brand new line of lipstick in like 30+ colors that saturate your lips with intense color in a single swipe. The berries and reds are incredible. Statement lip all the way! I’m partial to Vera, personally.

Expect to Feel at theWit


Expectations are tricky. We lay them out for ourselves as a way to plan, anticipate and level set our experiences. It’s just one big mind game, really. A constricting one at that. Rather than planning how I think I might feel, I’m just feeling.

And, boy, did I ever feel at theWit.

Let’s see. I expected the Signature Massage at the Spa@theWit to be relaxing. Spoiler: it was. I also expected to wince in pain as the knots in my back got worked. I didn’t; they were actually tame.  What I didn’t expect, but I felt wholeheartedly, was an epic release of pain in the most unexpected place: my legs. We’re talking tears on the table emotion that took me by total surprise. And I know myself enough to recognize that it was more than just physical, though that was very apparent.  Every muscle and tendon was on the defense – tightness and soreness surfaced that I didn’t know was a problem. My body was all, “what have you been doing to me?!” The trace of the hot stones and pressure my therapist applied was nothing short of euphoric. I was smiling through the tears.

In those 50 minutes, I felt the weight of every step I’ve taken these past few months wither away. The steps down the hallway at the courthouse to see the judge who would officially end my marriage. The walk to the alley to take the garbage out (is it BAD if I point out that I completely delegated this task for as long as I can remember?!) Actually, maybe it was the “get low” squats I busted out while dancing at a bar as a single lady for the first time in more than a decade. Or breaking in these heels because a girl wants to feel sexy in a hot pair of shoes (for the record, they’re actually pretty comfortable). There are so many motions and firsts I’m experiencing that every step I’ve taken since August feels heavier. Like I’m a mall walker ready to burn some cals with my strap-on weights. My mom totally had a pair of those, btw.

My point? Opening ourselves up to feeling what we actually need to feel and straying from the confines of our own expectations is when you actually process a moment. Or in my case, months of moments that burrowed in my hamstrings.

I took some time to decompress in The Whisper Room – theWit’s pre- and post-spa oasis with shaved coconut and tea – and thought about how I needed to come back for a massage sooner than later – thank ya very much new PrettyQuick app – and how I’m actually pretty excited to get low on the dance floor again.

Photo source

A Cleanser Combo Worth a Wooooo

Clarisonic Cleansing

One of my duties hosting The Makeup Date at Bloomingdale’s a few weks ago was to pick all of the raffle winners. I had an oversized glass bowl that I swooshed all of the entries around in – fun stuff. I would probably be mortified if I saw myself on video because every time I picked a name and saw the person stand up, I had this visceral reaction of throwing my hands up and shouting wooooooo wooooo. Just like that. It was like I was at a football game and there was some epic touchdown to win the game. Every time. I picked more than a dozen names! I guess I’m genuinely that excited to give away beauty products.

One of those giveaways was a Clarisonic – I was beaming when I handed over a box filled with a brand spanking new Mia. You see, sonic cleansing is the business. I’ve been a convert for three years. The team at Clarisonic told me that the device removes 30x more pollution from skin than hands alone. This stat doesn’t make me cringe; instead I feel a sinister smile creeping because I love to wash my face and get after that gook. And after three years, I’ve discovered a combo that is just doing it for me. Doing it well. There’s a whole posse of Clarisonic brush heads but the newest Radiance is incredible. The bristles are extra fine and soft—even more so than the Sensitive. Paired with Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser and this is the most pampering two minutes of my day. This cleanser is worth every penny – I’ve never used anything quite like it. The Clarisonic transforms it into a foaming wonderland with French clay to help tighten and cleanse pores, vitamin c to brighten and essential oils of frankincense, jasmine and sandalwood to tone and balance. It’s definitely woooo woooo worthy.

The Feminine Guide to Holiday Gifting

Holiday Gift Guide

Femininity is all about the grace and elegance of being your own woman. I don’t see feminine as girly or bubblegum but as a stamp of individuality, however you choose to express. In me, this takes form more often than not in a grey t-shirt, pink cheeks and some brassy accessories. How it takes form in a holiday gift guide is through statement pieces designed to add a little edge to your daily routine.

Don’t you just want to pull a Beautycounter Lip Sheer out of your bag RIGHT NOW just to oogle that tube? The colors – six in total – are sheer and designed to complement all skin tones and the plant-based formula is free of any harmful additives.

For holiday, Rifle Paper Co teamed with photographer Garance Dore and the end result is some stunning pieces of paper! Love the whimsical beauty prints on the 2015 desk calendar.

A signature scent is the ultimate expression…one that also happens to look great on a vanity. TOCCA Margaux is the jam. Part sultry (woodsy vanilla notes) and soft (violet and jasmine).

Gift ‘The One’ – a brush by BECCA (in a fancy gold holiday “coat”) that you can use to do just about anything. This one brush replaces the function of 10 others!

If you’re a really fancy gift giver (or self-gifter), may I suggest the Rebecca Minkoff Quilted Affair Bag? The gold chain sold me on this design majorly.

Her palette game is always on point during the holiday. Bobbi Brown Warm Glow Eye Palette is filled with bronzy metals, rose golds and neutral browns that you will wear every day.

The most feminine beauty oil there ever was… Kyrpis Beauty Elixir 1,000 Roses! It literally has the essential oils of 1,000 Bulgarian roses and massaging this into skin gives you a glow and all sorts of aromatherapeutic benefits.

There’s no makeup quite like Kjaer Weis. The weighty compacts are meant to be refilled and are a statement all the way. I recommend the cream blush Lovely for any skin tone.

“Kokoro” refers to a “special little something” in Japanese and the team at Tatcha assembled the most thoughtful kokoros. The Golden Lip + Mirror Duo comes with Tatcha’s Gold Camellia Lip Balm and a palm-sized mirror all bundled up in a Tatcha blue canister.

Crosstown’s Kailee Martin Will Train You (and Make You Wanna Dance)

Kailee Martin Crosstown Fitness

I had mad respect for Crosstown Fitness trainer Kailee Martin after spending an hour getting my entire body absolutely #werqed with the most ADD burst of cardio that took me through a swirl of emotions. From the sassy “I got this” to the fearful “I might pass out if I spend one more second on this treadmill… SAVE ME.” Just don’t let my drama fool you. I loved every second. Though, I think my true adoration came when she said to me with the sweetest upswing, “ya know, I’m a rap-based person.” ME TOO, Kailee. If my workouts (scratch that, my DAYS!) don’t involve some level of getting down, I’m probably not having as much fun as I should be.  For the record, Kailee’s always do and she even puts out a new playlist every week on Spotify (find her by her full name – Kailee Martin) filled with all sorts of put-your-back-into-it jams.

Over a personal training session, which included Kailee’s “secret booty workout” and me doing chin-ups for the first time since grade school, I got to know this spunky trainer a little more. What I discovered was a risk taker with a bold outlook on life.  At the ripe age of 21 (yes, I almost fell out of my chair when I discovered that, too), Kailee has built a devoted fan base at Crosstown Fitness, where she personal trains and teaches nearly a dozen classes each week.

Crosstown Fitness Chicago

A dancer since childhood, Kailee took a chance after two years at Columbia College. “I was studying music and dance and I loved it but I just felt internally that I wanted to do something bigger. I just didn’t know what at the time.” Her love of movement and performance paved the way for her to pursue her fitness certification and eventually to a job at a big box gym. The latter had her wanting more than machines and the usual personal training regimen. “I actually walked by Crosstown before it was Crosstown and saw them training the trainers. I was like, how can I work here?!” Eventually Kailee got a job manning the front desk and was surprised one morning with a chance to prove she could command a class when an instructor was a no-show. The rest, as they say, is history.

I gleaned some life lessons from her approach to group fitness. “Bodies respond best to change,” Kailee explains.  “Don’t be afraid to pick up 10 or even 20 lbs – push yourself!” I’m guilty of going for the 5 lb weights and staying in my comfort zone. But, if Kailee can have me rowing 12 lb weights in a plank for 20 reps on each side than surely I can face the other changes charging through my life right now with equal tenacity.

Oh, and the secret booty workout? Leg lifts, baby. Lots of ‘em at all sorts of angles.

Gift Local This Holiday

Chicago Holiday Gift Guide

Black Friday on the internet is a scary place to be.  Anyone else get absolutely sucked in by all of the sale emails? Self-control is the name of the game. I’d give my BF performance a C+ this year, guys. While I did hit up some brick & mortar shops, most of the damage I did was online. In the process, though, I developed the ultimate gift guide to help you treat all the loves on your list. This year, I’m doing holiday gift guides the 312B way…local, feminine and bold. It’s how I roll. First up, let’s start with Chicago’s finest.

I am a coco-oil devotee and often recommend others get on the bandwagon. But giving someone a giant tub of Nature’s Way isn’t exactly a “pretty” gift. Enter Cocovit, harvested from fair trade coconuts in South India and made in the 312. That packaging, tho…right? They even make a mini!

I deem La Bella Figura’s Lisette La Coquette to be the perfect red lip tint for all. I’ve seen it on all complexions, from my shade of fair to THEE Lisette who has a deep olive complexion. It looks banging every time. I also recommend checking out the LBF Skin Tonics that are like vitamins for your skin, meant to be used before moisturizer and serums. I’m all about gifting for the complexion!

There’s a great shop on Montrose and Winchester called Alapash, owned by the terrarium master of the USofA— seriously, no one does it better than Marco. He takes such care in his craft, calling the succulents his “little babies.” His shop is filled with all sorts of unique treasures and he even has a pop-up at Gallery 19 until January 1.

One of the highlights of my year was discovering the talented Michelle Starbuck. I constantly wear her jewelry and am gifting it to just about everyone this holiday (spoiler alert). I love her stud earrings – especially these diamonds – and the malachite conical necklace!

Being the beauty gal that I am, I like to gift a makeup bag and fill it with a few beauty treats. I love the simple masculine aesthetic of Pine & Plastic designs – handmade, sewn and painted in Chicago by a young designer named Andrew Wayne.

Anyone living in the Midwest knows: blankets are ALWAYS a perfect gift. Maya Mueble (founded by Emily Prendergast and her brother Brian) discovers small family artisans in Latin America and brings their handcrafted creations to Chicago. This wool blanket is made in a small village of Guatemala with a foot on treadle loom and is the thickest coziest blanket I’ve ever felt!

And, if you are in Chicago and you prefer to do your gift-getting in person, there are a few great shows coming up. Renegade Market is back for the holidays on December 6 and 7 at the Bridgeport Art Center and Dose Market is December 14 in the West Loop.