Tag Archives: Kiehl’s

Best of Beauty 2016

best beauty 2016

I am all about the reflective year in review. I do it through a beauty lens here and from a personal POV in my journal. I used to find this time of year rather sad because it was saying goodbye to a year but now I see it as hopeful. And, let’s be honest, is anyone else really sad to see 2016 go? Peace out, you were ruthless.

And about that beauty lens. This year was awesome from that view. The 90s came back with a vengeance, YouTubers put 100 coats of makeup on for fun and rainbow highlighter was a sensation. Not all my jam but trends that made this year what it was in beauty. We’re also living the rise of skincare as makeup and individualism, ala Glossier – an ascension I am 100% on board with moving into 2017.

beauty favorites 2016

I’ll get to it. My top 10 favorite beauty launches of 2016.

Honestly, Glossier everything. But especially the Stretch Concealer and Super Pure serum. I use two shades of the concealer (Light and Medium) and often use that combo in place of any other face makeup. They are so creamy and dewy.

Lancome had maybe the best idea for a liquid eyeliner: make the handle bend so application is easier. It works. And, to boot, the eyeliner formula itself is extra inky and concentrated so there’s never any tugging or skipping.

Technically, this is not a 2016 launch but I didn’t discover it until this summer. Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara is the best drugstore mascara, ever. It lengthens and curls lashes, holds them in place all day and is 100% budgeproof – even the non-waterproof version.kiehl's midnight recovery cleansing oil

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil squeezed in just under the wire – but I’ve been using it for a month now and it’s love. This definitely has a place in every top of the year list. It breaks down makeup beautifully but its power is in bringing you the zen. I swear using this at night this helps separate me from the stress of the day.

As I said in my original review, it’s really rare that I want to use a multiuse product as intended. Inevitably, they are always best on the cheek. Not so with the Bite Beauty Multistick at all. Somehow every color works as an eyeshadow, wears comfortably as a lipstick and looks good on cheeks. Cashew is my favorite shade.

diptyque eau des sens

I love having a Diptyque boutique in Chicago. I remember trying their spring fragrance, Eau des Sens, on a freezing cold spring day. It gave me hope of warmer days to come. The best way to describe it is like an orange tree. But not just the sweet blossom but also the greenery and tree itself. In-freaking-credible.

elizabeth arden prevage spf

As you can see in my photos, I am about to squeeze the last drops of my Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF. This isn’t merely a really fancy sunscreen (but forgive me, I’m known for that at times…) but the most essential step in my daytime skincare routine. This formula is the color of pantyhose and the consistency of a thin lotion. It is loaded with Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage and helps protect against all of the damage you encounter outdoors – sun and pollutants. It truly is for city girls.

Like Glossier, Ouai had a sensational year. This line cropped up what felt like out of nowhere and for months it was all I heard about. As soon as I tried the line (review here) I understood the hype. The Hair Oil is a standout for me. It helps my hair dry shiny and bouncy and smells like an exotic vacation.
Mac Liptensity Driftwood

I try and love a lot of lip color. But most of all I love MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Driftwood. It’s a pinkish mauve that runs cool. I’m always attracted to these colors but find they can go awry. Not Driftwood – I give off healthy vibes with this one. I love that it is unlike anything I have in my collection.

So there you have it: my year in beauty. What rocked your world in 2016? Beauty or otherwise.

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations

kiehls apothecary prep

In a throwback to their OG apothecary days, Kiehl’s is mixing up custom serums in store. Equipped with your very own Rx label. I stopped by the Michigan Ave store last month to experience the process firsthand and found it all very scientifically satisfying. My skin has been responding positively to my blend as well.

I love this because it’s all about customization. Something I am V into at the moment — those salad kits in a bag are freaking life right now.

Kiehls Michigan Ave

It starts with a diagnosis – what does the Skin Atlas (literally a giant book with helpful pictures) say about your skin, how oily is your skin, what’s the moisture level in your skin? There’s a wand that Kiehl’s uses to figure out the latter and I was low – in the 20s. To be fair, I think that “stellar” is somewhere in the 50s. After you have that reality check, you get to personalize your formula based on your two most significant skin concerns. Redness, wrinkles, rough texture, large pores and dullness. From there, you’ll get two tubes of potent complexes to mix in with Kiehl’s Skin-Strengthening Concentrate, made of 35% concentrated Squalane and botanical oil blend of apricot, coriander, black currant and echium oils. This blend on its own is incredible but it’s powerful when you mix in the treatments.

I like that the base of the concentrate is squalane – it’s like a warm cozy blanket for your skin that helps keep moisture in. My skin responds really well to Kiehl’s products, overall. I find they do what they say and you can see them working.  The option to customize is a nice perk for loyalists wanting to amp up the potency.

I went for it with the wrinkle-reducing complex and the texture refining complex. These are the skin concerns that matter most to me so it seemed obvious. In one tube, Kiehl’s gave me a highly concentrated retinol and the other was a mix of vitamin F and LHA (lipohydroxy acid). It’s a derivative of salicylic acid that chemically exfoliates in a gentler manner.  I came home, squeezed the two complexes into the bottle and then shook it intensely for about 60 seconds.

For the past month, I’ve been using this every night – about 4-5 drops pressed into the skin – over my serums and before locking it all in with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm. That last step is something I added because of the extreme dips in temperature.

Oh, and the coolest part is this custom vintage pharmacy label they print out in store and affix to your bottle. There’s a set of numbers on their as well that gets saved into Kiehl’s system so if you want to reorder your blend, they can bring it right up for you.

This isn’t yet offered at every Kiehl’s store but they list them all online so you can double check. For example, they do this in Chicago’s Michigan Ave store but not the Armitage location. However, it is available in Schaumburg.

Keep your skin protected and your limbs covered. It’s getting chilly out there!

Photo credit (second picture only): Hallie Duesenberg

Facial in a Jar

Kiehl's Face Masks

I have some serious rituals.

Giving myself manicures on Sunday nights while watching The Good Wife. Tears that it’s the last season (thanks, Obama).

Masking with a glass of wine. Sometimes in the bath, depending on the mask and if steam will mess it up. But bathtime is a ritual in itself.

Everything bagels when I’m PMS-ing.  And wine, too.

When I write these things down, it really seems as carbs and pinot are the backbone of my life.

My rituals are about to get shook up. I’m going to do Whole 30, starting later this month! I’m excited but way anxious, too. I’m worried I’ll have withdrawal and discover I’ve had some weird sugar addiction I didn’t actually know about. I’m in mega research mode and just bought ghee, so it’s about to get real.

I’m hoping for more energy, a better relationship with food and an understanding of what makes me feel good and bad. I’m doing it with coworkers so I’m so thankful to have that support. Especially when we’re all reaching for the bin of Twizzlers at 3pm.

I’ll fill my nights with workouts and do without alcohol. Instead, I’ll enjoy my LaCroix in a wine glass with a squeeze of lime. And I’ll still have my beauty fun to look forward to. You know I’m probably the only person who enthusiastically says regularly, “I can’t wait to exfoliate tonight.”

Kiehl's Tumeric Mask

I’m hoping for that Whole 30 glow in my skin but will supplement with masks. I’m completely loving the two new ones from Kiehl’s – they can be used in tandem but I like to space them out to one time each per week. Been trying them out in a few ways and really pleased with the results (and the price – $32) They are like instant facials!

There’s the Tumeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque that exfoliates but gently with cranberry seeds. The tumeric gives skin an immediate radiance (and why the product is yellow in color!) Tumeric is one of the new “it” ingredients in beauty that you’re likely to see cropping up in skin care. I say ‘yay’ to that.  Goop even has a recipe for a turmeric latte that I am going to try (minus the coconut sugar because Whole 30 rules and regs.)

Kiehl's Cilantro Mask

The other Kiehl’s mask that has this city girl excited is the Cilantro & Orange Extract Polluting Defending Mask. Pollution is a part of city life – we breathe it in and our skin absorbs it as well. It’s gross to think about and scary because it’s invisible, for the most part. Kiehl’s scientists tested this with cigarette smoke exposure and found the ingredients trigger a protective mechanism and helps your skin fight. This is a good mask to lightly pat on and wear overnight for more benefit. I wouldn’t do this if you’re struggling with dry skin but it is gentle enough to leave on for a longer length of time.

Also, now would be a perfect time for anyone out there share Whole 30 advice. I feel like so many people have done this so please let me know if you have. What saved you from snacking? Any easy recipes that you found yourself making every week?

Sharing is Caring

It’s become a running joke with my boyfriend that I “acquire” his things. There was the t-shirt he bought and “gifted” me (I totally wore it to bed and never returned it) and the scarf he washed while at my house (must have “left” it in the dryer accidentally…nope). There’s also that cozy pair of wool socks I borrowed when mine got wet (may as well bring them home and wash them…mine now). I may have pushed the “what’s mine is yours” thing quite literally in our relationship but I’m down to share, too.

Boyfriend Inspired

I welcome smelling like a dude as long as that smell is Molton Brown Tobacco Absolute. The scent sticks around so I usually skip the perfume days I use in the shower.

One of the passions I share with my boyfriend is live music. A great way to preserve the memory of an awesome night is a stop at the merch table. I love wearing his band tees. Tame Impala’s are some of the sickest.

Have you heard of MeUndies? It’s like an underwear of the month club. My boyfriend subscribed over the summer and I was excited to see they also had women’s styles. They are ridiculously soft.

Davines This is An Invisible Serum is intended to be used as a smoothing and styling serum for men or women. It manages to tame hair and give it some texture but doesn’t leave behind a greasy or waxy feeling. Any time I hear a man complaining about hair product, I mention this. Everyone loves it.

I got the Clarisonic Alpha Fit for my boyfriend for Christmas this year. I think he likes it; the Clarisonic was completely new to him! Happy to see they came out with a version for women, too. The main difference is the brush and the timing settings – the Alpha has a longer cycle for beards.

Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap is the perfect unisex soap. I sometimes lather it on my face and then let the Clarisonic do its thing. The coconut milk in the formula makes for an awesome and unexpected lather.

Much of Kiehl’s skincare flexes for sexes. One product to be appreciated by all – especially in the dead of winter – is the Intensive Treatment and Moisturizer for calluses and dry skin.

I’ve tried shopping in the men’s department for flannels but something about the fit is always off. My go to for that longer and oversized – but still feminine – look is Madewell’s ex-boyfriend shirts. I have them in a few different styles and hope they never discontinue the fit.

Anyone else into that whole sharing is caring model?!

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.

312 To Do: Ride With Kiehl’s Aug. 4


I’m hitting the road again next week for a five day, two city trip. I’m starting my week in Minneapolis for work and then making my way west for A Night for Green Beauty.  I’ll just be missing the Kiehl’s LifeRide stop in Chicago which is a bit of a bummer. Every summer, Kiehl’s President and resident badass Chris Salgardo leads celebs and cause supporters on a (motor!) bike ride around the U.S. to help benefit AIDS research. The Kiehl’s crew will be at the Michigan Ave store at 12 noon where Jay from Chicago PD (IRL name = Jesse Lee Soffer) will be hosting a Bikes & BBQ bash. There will be Lillie’s Q, a bunch of other really attractive actors on motorcycles and a 15% off discount in store. Of note is the special jumbo-sized tube of the Ultimate Hand Strength Salve that 100% of sales benefit AIDS research and Kiehl’s newest face wash that’s been rocking my world (/face) for the past month. The Calendula Deep Cleansing Wash is extra foamy, soap-free, super gentle and a partner in crime to Kiehl’s Calendula Toner which has been around since the 1960s! A single pump massaged into a slightly damp face for a minute before rinsing breaks down makeup with little effort. Kiehl’s does not skimp on quantity – this bottle is mega. Just the way I like it.

How I’m Styling My Summer


One of my favorite faces at Chicago Blogger Network events is always Erin Bassett, of Color Me Styled. So I was excited when she asked me to guest blog on how I’m styling my summer. You could say I approached the topic in the non-traditional sense. It’s all about SPF! It’s the ultimate (albeit invisible) staple accessory of summer. Because sun-damaged skin is never in style!

Head on over to Color Me Styled to check it out!

Decoding the BB and CC Craze


My arsenal of BB + CC

The BB Cream craze took off last year, and there are no signs of it letting up. Now, with the surge of BB’s cousin, the CC Cream, chances are you’re wondering what this alphabet soup is all about. Maybe you’ve even dabbled in a tube or two? BB, a.k.a. blemish or beauty balm, and CC, a.k.a color control or corrective, are essentially next-gen tinted moisturizers.  BB creams have been extremely popular in Asia for decades, used as an alternative to foundation by many women. They’re the ultimate multitaskers — combining skin care, makeup and even sun protection. CC creams are incredibly similar, but usually have higher SPF and target specific skin concerns, like discoloration and redness. By definition alone, the differences seem discernible. In reality, though, many companies release products that blur the lines between BB and CC and some have capitalized on the popularity… slapping on the “BB” label.

I’ve put quite a few BB and CC creams to the test for the sake of beauty! I’m over on The Garmenteur this week with some tips on how to decipher the marketing lingo and provide some recommendations for the BB and CC seeker.

Click on over here to read it in full!

Melanoma Monday, But It’s Not What You Think


While I find the name “Melanoma Monday” to be extremely ill-conceived, I think it’s an important day of awareness. But first, let’s not get it twisted with Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday or any other day connected to something you want. A few weeks ago, I commented to my gym friend (you know the people you see in class each week but don’t really know outside of that room) that she was looking nice and bronzed. I assumed she would tell me she got a spray or used a new lotion, because really, what 30+ year old woman actually goes to a tanning bed, right? Wrong. She said she was “tanning for her wedding” but “just a base.” It took me a minute to process and I felt that I didn’t know her well enough to shame her into never doing it again.  Shame might be a bit harsh, but tanning beds are cancer/wrinkle beds. Why mess with that?

What’s worse, according to a new sun study being released today by L’Oreal, is that American women give themselves a “C” when grading their sun care habits.  Basically, we know we should wear sunscreen, but don’t. What gives? I hear often from my friends and coworkers that it’s “cloudy” or “I’m inside all day” but honestly, the sun is smarter than you think. It reflects off of everything — concrete, snow, windows.  I also think there is a perception that sunscreen formulas are smelly, thick and goopy. Not the case anymore.

While I’m good about wearing SPF every day on my face and neck, even I can do a better job with my body. It’s not just when you’re at the beach or doing outdoor activities. So my Melanoma Monday commitment is to make it a routine to SPF my legs, arms, chest and hands. Don’t forget the hands! Will you join me in making a MM commitment?

Arming myself with a body SPF for all situations:

Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector / L’Oreal Sublime Sun Sheer Protect Sunscreen Oil / Skinceuticals Sport UV Defense / Aveeno Natural Protection

Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer, a Stress-Relieving Moisturizer?


{Chanel Azure on the nails!}

Stress is the new norm. It’s all about how you manage it, right? I balance my crazy by drinking lots of water and getting my daily giggle on. Seriously, when neither happens, stress creeps and shows on skin.  Somehow, I even managed to avoid getting a cold this year when everyone I knew was down and out with that nasty flu. (Cue knocking on wood.) I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of the havoc stress can wreak on skin. It’s no joke how puffiness, redness, dullness, blotchiness and fatigue just takes over. The “you look tired” is the worst thing you can hear.  And it’s not just superficial, but over time the effects of stress weaken the skin barrier and causes premature aging. Which, honestly, is stressful just to think about. A vicious circle that Kiehl’s is hoping to disrupt.

The OG apothecary just released the Skin Rescuer, a lightweight moisturizer with a formula specifically designed to limit the release of stress signals to skin. How exactly? Extracts from the petals of the Rosa Gallica flower minimize inflammation and mannose, a rare sugar, helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier. Plus a side of shea butter, squalane and blend of ceramides. I tell ya, I like everything about the Skin Rescuer. It’s intended to be layered over a serum and is light enough to layer another moisturizer on top. But, no worries if you want to trim a step because this can double as a moisturizer. And, this one is totally dude-approved, too. If you’re up for sharing, this could be one to let your man steal.

Low to Luxe: Eye Cream

It wasn’t long ago that my friend Catherine asked me to break down the best makeup for busy moms. And right before she came back from maternity leave, she specifically pegged me on eye cream recommendations.  I’m no expert on mom beauty shortcuts yet, but I know eye cream. I started using it when I was around 19 (Clinique All About Eyes, a beginner’s staple!) and I’m a firm believer that it needs to be a part of every woman’s routine.  It’s never too early or late to add that step, and the payoff is major. I’ve put together a list of my top recommendations, in low to luxe fashion. I like options, and I imagine you do as well!


Low to Luxe: Acure Organics // Origins // Kiehl’s // Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics // La Bella Figura

Acure Organics Eye Cream is one of the best values I’ve come across — especially considering the organic, superfruit-packed formula (Acai! Pomegranate! Goji berry!) It’s lightweight but don’t worry, it’s fighting the good fight against wrinkles. One of my favorite things about this brand is that for every product sold, they donate $1 to Bright Pink to help fund breast cancer education.

I went through a major Origins GinZing phase a few years back and it remains a favorite. It’s like a cup of coffee for your eyes, with a blend of caffeine, ginseng and optic brighteners to bring visible radiance to the eye area. I like to blend my concealer with a dab of this and apply together. It’s a good morning boost.

I am a fan of most of Kiehl’s eye creams, and I really like the new Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream. It uses Copper PCA (an essential mineral in the skin) to prevent the breakdown of collagen. I love how quickly skin drinks it up (making it very easy to wear during the day) and the formula has a solid blend of wrinkle-fighters and moisturizers.

My new obsession is the shea-packed vitamin e eye balm from Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics. Shea butter is everything! The value in this tiny tub is crazy, given how little you need. It’s daytime appropriate, but best suited for night when you can layer it on for some good old fashioned beauty sleep. Elizabeth advised me to dab some on my lips and cuticles. I did so with the leftover on my finger after applying undereyes —- there’s never any waste!

I’ve saved the luxe for last! And it’s not even an eye cream but an oil serum – La Bella Figura Découverte Eye Repair Serum. I like to call it my magic eraser. If you are looking to really combat the crow’s feet, you need to call in the big guns. Découverte is made from pure barbary fig seed oil and it’s extremely effective in making stressed tissue appear smooth and youthful. I don’t throw around the “miracle” word like ever but I think this can actually help reverse signs of aging. It’s a worthy investment and the good news is a little bit goes a long way.

note: some editorial samples were provided (Kiehl’s, Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics & La Bella Figura)

Spring Cleaning: Bathroom Drawer Edition


Meet the place where face creams and kabuki brushes come to live. Otherwise known as my bathroom drawer. I think my spring cleaning urge has officially activated. I relish in a good cleaning day. Organizing and decluttering can lead me to my happy place. But the mood has to strike. For example, on New Year’s Day I spent hours cleaning my pantry. Talk about the ultimate sense of achievement. I’d been putting that one off for a loooong time. With all this talk of spring beauty, I realized it’s time to tackle the drawer. I’ve only got so much bathroom counter real estate, so I tend to cram and stack a lot in there for the sake of keeping things tidy.

The “before” is a sight and I’ve already made a note to move my near empty Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica tub in the recycling bin (back to Kiehl’s of course — they give rewards!) and to repurchase my favorite SPF. But there also some new discoveries in here that are making their way into my spring beauty routine.


In my March Birchbox, there was a pretty hefty sample of MAKE Eye Makeup Remover. It’s gentle and removes even my most challenging makeup (like this). This is a brand new on my radar but between this and the mini lipstick I received, I’m interested in knowing more!

Eco-Tools came out with this nifty Foam Applicator that has one flat side and a pointy edge. It applies concealer pretty flawlessly.  Plus, it’s cheaper than lunch.

Dr. Dennis Gross makes my favorite self-tanning body towelettes and now he came out with a sunless version for body. It smooths (tackling keratosis pilaris), evens out discoloration, exfoliates and tones. Short sleeves and bare legs are coming and these are helping my body come out of hiding.

Aveeno entered the land of BB Cream! Their new formula lends a light and luminous coverage with an always welcome SPF 30. I wore it to the gym last weekend since I don’t like walking there without SPF protection. It held up well. Testing continues!

Now that I’ve begun the task of pretty-ing this drawer up for the sake of spring beauty, I’m excited to see what else I uncover.

Note: Aveeno provided me with a sample of the BB Cream as part of their 2013 Ambassador program.