Tag Archives: Travel

The Makeup I Actually Wore on Vacation

It’s a wrap on vacation! I’m back from Sweden and Finland. It’s kind of crazy to think my last day at work was June 2 and now it’s June 19. A few weeks away was exactly the escape I needed. I’ve always had an affection for Scandivian design, and now it’s developing into a full-fledged obsession.

We spent most of our time in Stockholm and took a trip to a Helsinki as well. It’s approaching midsummer (a bug deal in that part of the world) but it was actually quite chilly. I kept on seeing 90+ degrees in Chicago so I was happy about it, except when it was raining.

We used our Away carry-on suitcases and didn’t check any luggage. For once, I didn’t overpack makeup. I really didn’t have that luxury and by now, I know I don’t need that much. I could have brought less, sure, but I used everything I brought.

I didn’t bring everything from my summer beauty wardrobe but packed items from it. It was really nice to use the same makeup and gave me a true immersion into the world of beauty wardrobe-ing. While we were in Stockholm, I saw news of the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette. Obviously I totally want but am deferring to my rules to help me put that in check. It’s almost a relief! And, the rational part of me remembers that I actually have several items in my summer wardrobe that are really similar.

I wore IT Cosmetics CC Cream during the day – the added SPF is a major draw when you’re spending the entire day outside. The coverage on this is unreal and it has some nice reflective qualities. After spending the entire day out, we got into the routine of napping, showering and getting ready again at night. The sun doesn’t set until around 11 (even later in Finland!) so it always felt like we were going out early. Vacation brain is awesome. When I did my makeup for night, I kept it really simple with just a few drops of Glossier Skin Tint and Stretch Concealer.

Another every day was NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer and Cloud Paints in Dusk and Beam. I used a flat foundation brush to apply the Cloud Paints and I’ve been really into the finish it gives versus my fingers. I ran out of my It Cosmetics Skinny Brow Pencil on the last day of vacation – grateful it didn’t happen sooner. I like to layer some strokes under Boy Brow. I have a MAC brow pencil that I intend to replace this with instead of buying something new.

I also kept my eye makeup pretty basic. I packed a single MAC eyeshadow in Grain that wasn’t *technically* in my beauty wardrobe but it’s because I didn’t want to bring the big face palette. During the day I’d sweep it on without any primer – despite bringing my NARS Smudgeproof eye base. Grain is the perfect skin colored pearl – it doesn’t look like color on my lid so when it got a little oily it took on a glossy look.

Most nights I used Ilia Next To You. Sometimes I’d layer it with the NARS duo in St Paul de Vence. I also used Bite Beauty Multistick in Blondie on my eyelids and lower lash line. I took a tiny liner brush and concentrated it on the lower lash line as well. It totally defined my eyes in almost an invisible way – I could tell my eyes looked more open but couldn’t tell I was wearing any makeup. I could have used less lip color. I wore Balm Dot Com and Gen G in Leo nearly every day.

I’m only a few weeks in to my beauty wardrobe, and I’m loving it. I’m excited to try new ways to use these colors. I’ll be honest, too, it feels good to use things up! I know this sounds backward but there’s nothing better than a well loved tube of lipstick nearing the end. Right?

Colorado Road Trip Redux

maroon bells aspen

The first thing you should know is this photo isn’t edited a lick. And it was shot on my iPhone 6…can I get a billboard or what, Apple? I’m back from my Colorado adventure and riding my nature high right into September. Despite what everyone on Instagram says, summer is not over yet. Let’s revisit its demise at a later date, k?  I’m just going to pretend that the sun isn’t setting in the 7 o’clock hour and getting noticeably shorter by the day. I will take the cooler nights now, though, thank ya very much.

So what does one do for a week and a half road tripping in Colorado?

Colorado Vacation

  1. Not check luggage! I avoid this at all costs but knew that packing for 40, 60 and 90 degrees would require some creativity. I haven’t bought luggage since I graduated college (gulp, 12 years ago) so made a big girl purchase and got the Away Carry-On suitcase. It fits more than you would think by looking at it and there’s all sorts of smart features like a built-in laundry bag, phone charger and zippered organizers.
  2. Hike. We did three big hikes – one per anchor city (Aspen, Granby, Denver). It became a joke that I can’t tie my shoes because they come undone at least twice per mile. And, my poor circulation became very evident when hiking Maroon Bells. I’m not raising the roof there – just trying to get my blood flowing so I could feel my fingers.
  3. Read a book. I flew through Behind Closed Doors on the flight to Denver. It is a creepy psychological thriller about a “perfect couple” and sent me into quite an emotional tizzy. I totally recommend reading it but be forewarned as there is a part about a dog that made me cry.Denver Adventure
  4. Explore. We walked all over Aspen and Denver – the high altitude makes even 65 degrees seem sweltering! So when it was almost in 90 in Denver, I was toast.
  5. Find a beauty boutique (duh). My boyfriend loves records and I love beauty. Plenty of each to discover in Denver. Our Airbnb was in the Highlands neighborhood not too far from indie beauty shop Vert Beauty. They also offered spa treatments which I wish I’d made the time to indulge in.
  6. Caffeinate. We slept in most mornings but I still need coffee to kick start my days. Especially on driving days. I loved Allegro Coffee in Denver. We went there almost every morning and I even had my first pumpkin chai latte of the season. I don’t love a PSL – too syrupy – but this hit the freaking spot.

What did everyone else do over Labor Day?  Are you still in summer mode?

Beauty My Way: Kahina’s Katharine L’Heureux

Kahina Giving Beauty

My gateway into the skin healing world of face oils was argan. There weren’t many around marketed for your face and face alone about six years ago. Now, it’s widespread. One of the early adapters of argan oil – maybe thee founder among indie brands – is Kahina Giving Beauty’s Katharine L’Heureux. Katharine works closely with the Berber women of Morocco to ensure that not only is she making the highest quality products but doing so while protecting the natural, human and cultural resources that help make it happen. I think it’s awesome that her business is founded in supporting and protecting women and she is also bringing Moroccan beauty rituals to us in really luxurious and special ways. Beldi soap, anyone?

For any of us that think we know the path we’re on, I hope you’re as energized as I am by Katharine’s story of personal and professional transformation from PR girl to mom to beauty globetrotter. Life is unexpected but it’s the connections we make throughout it that can change everything.

Kahina Katharine L’Heureux

What was life like pre-Kahina for you?
My life pre-Kahina was very different from what it is today. I had an early career in public relations, but became a stay-at-home mom in New York City in 2001 when my children were young. I rarely traveled except to our family vineyard in the Napa Valley. Now, I have just a twelve year old at home (the other two are in college), I travel 1-2 weeks out of every month and am busy with the day-to-day operations of Kahina.

How has travel impacted your life? Do you view the world differently?
Travel has enriched my life in so many ways, and given me a perspective on the world that I wouldn’t otherwise have. It has been especially enlightening to spend so much time in Morocco, a Muslim country and meet lovely people I have come to know there. I am fortunate to have had experiences that help me see beyond political rhetoric and to have made good friends that allow me to see beyond simplistic labels.

kahina traditional extraction processThe Berber women extracting argan oil

What beauty traditions and rituals have you learned from other cultures that you now practice?
When I discovered argan oil on my first trip to Morocco in 2007, I was unaccustomed to using pure oil on my face, which I have since learned is a traditional practice in many cultures. Now, I can’t imagine going without it. I am most intrigued by holistic beauty rituals incorporating regional ingredients and traditions passed down through generations. In Morocco, these include argan oil, prickly pear seed oil, rhassoul clay, rose water and beldi soap. Not only do these natural ingredients work, their farming, harvesting and production techniques help to preserve centuries-old knowledge and traditions while supporting rural populations. The awareness of the history of these ingredients and the people behind them enriches my own beauty experience.

What makeup and haircare do you bring with you on trips?
I keep it really simple when I travel. Argan oil is my best friend for giving me glowing skin and making my hair more manageable. Makeup is minimal, usually our Kahina Lip & Face Balm and sunglasses. If I want something a little extra, I’ll wear a little lipstick (Ilia) and mascara (W3LL People). For shampooing, I use Acure Organics.

kahina Essaouira fortress wallsFortress walls of Essaouira, Morocco; namesake of Kahina’s Essasouira Perfume Oil

Kahina Perfume
You just released a new perfume oil inspired by the Moroccan coastal city of Essaouira. What is the story of this scent and what you wanted it to convey?
Essaouira is a very laid-back beach town on the Atlantic Coast 2 hours outside of Marrakech. The charming port town colonized by the Portuguese in the 1500s has been attracting poets, scholars, craftsmen and artists for centuries and remains a dynamic center of art and music today. Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley both famously spent time there, making it a big draw for music lovers and giving it something of a hippy vibe today. I love how many worlds collide in this small town, which combines European and Moroccan influences, while maintaining its low-key beach vibe. In Essaouira, we wanted to emulate this breezy, exotic and somewhat sophisticated flavor with rose, geranium, lavender, sandalwood, petitgrain and blue tansy essential oils.

Is there a moment in Kahina’s history that stands out in your memory?
Kahina has been such an amazing adventure since it began almost 9 years ago, with so many stories and lessons learned along the way. I’ll never forget my first, order of argan oil from a cooperative. I had no experience in international commerce. I was dealing through a translator with women who only spoke Berber, so we couldn’t communicate directly and they had never shipped their oil to the U.S. before! I ordered 20 liters of oil and had it shipped via the Royal Moroccan postal service. I didn’t even get a receipt or tracking information and assumed it was lost. Three months later, I received a call from the post office at our house in Ulster County New York saying that a suspicious looking wooden crate nailed together was there with my name on it. I am amazed it ever arrived. My name and address in the US, scribed by these women, were barely legible, literally scrawled on the wood in black ink. The US Postal Service earned my respect that day. Of course, things are a bit more buttoned up at Kahina now.

Thanks, Katharine!

*photos 1-4 provided by Kahina

A Miraval State of Mind

Miraval Resort

Vacations are by their very nature retreats from the hustle of your daily life. But what happens when you get back? Sometimes you have a tan. Or a hangover. And usually piles of laundry. Coming back from Miraval, steps outside of Tucson, is a little different. It has taken me months to verbalize how impactful this trip was on my being. It’s so much more than just a vacation. When you reenter life post-Miraval you have a new perspective and understanding of yourself. It’s a comforting return; everything is going to be all right. Oprah was onto something when she said it was a life-changing adventure.

I knew Miraval would be special from the moment I stepped foot on the property. You see it in the mountains and you feel it in your heart. While there, I met a group of gal pals in their 60s that have been coming to Miraval every winter for the past 15 years, heard from a woman who said a one-hour group session on grieving did more for her than years of therapy and spoke with a fellow solo-traveler who recounted how she was able to recover a memory that led her to understand why she suffered from chronic pain. I also went to dinner in my bathrobe after an Ayurvedic massage. There’s something to be said for indulging in that type of mental and physical freedom. Also, less laundry…amiright?!

Miraval Challenges

While Miraval-ing, I immersed myself in experiences – which are plentiful and always changing with visits from world-renowned healers and experts – and gave myself space to be alone with my thoughts. I journaled the heck out of my stay there and re-reading those raw entries gave me chills. I’ll keep those just for me but the themes of mindfulness and reflection are for us. For you!

Miraval Views

We should be meditating more. Here’s the thing: No one is bad at meditation. I kept saying that and finally wellness counselor Lisa Frank reminded me that there is no right or wrong way. You don’t have to clear your head or suddenly stop thinking about what’s on your mind but instead be forgiving to yourself. We’re human beings; we have thoughts! The floating mediation she led me through was possibly my favorite experience at Miraval. I breathed deeply. I cried. I learned. I listened. I try to take a moment every morning to meditate and just be, even if for only 5 minutes.

Do you.  It’s not selfish to put yourself first. Yet, as women especially, we guilt ourselves if we do. The ‘i’ in Miraval represents you, the individual. Everyone at Miraval seemed to be seeking something – relaxation, bonding, recovery, confronting fears. And, for the latter, there’s a cable 35 feet off the ground waiting for you to walk across it and shut that shi*t down. Giving yourself what you need is the only way you can truly be there for other people.

Miraval Desert

Look around. The mountainous backdrop of Miraval is intensely breathtaking. And I think seeing the mountains helped me see more clearly back home. Rather than be on my phone walking (a hazard on tons of levels), I’ve been paying closer attention to the architectural details on buildings and charm of the city. I’ve got a nice library of photos building up as a result. But really, I could stare at these photos from Miraval all day, errday.

Miraval Pool

Be curious. We should always show up with an interested mindset and openness to learn — in all interactions and roles. There are so many opportunities to do this at Miraval. I took an Intro to Ayurveda class, based on one of the oldest ancient Indian healing rituals that believes human beings are composed of three main mind body principles, a.k.a “doshas” derived from the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth). Accordingly, our unique Ayurvedic constitution helps us understand why we have certain tendencies. I found it spot on and it’s something that I think can help me find balance.  Miraval is even considering adding a quick Ayurveda quiz to the website so guests can customize treatments to their ayurvedic makeup.

I also spent as much time as I could possibly in my three-day stay at the Life in Balance Spa. Every treatment was spectacular as was simply sitting in a fluffy robe with a mug of tea gazing across the property into the mountainous terrain. Surely, this is the setting where stress goes to die and clarity emerges.

Miraval is self-love in the highest form and I can’t wait to return!

Full Moon, Packed Makeup Bag

Travel Makeup Bags

Last night’s full moon was hypnotizing. I caught myself gazing with a purpose up into the sky. In fact, my entire day felt purposeful. I’d been procrastinating on a few things and felt stuck on a few ideas. It happens, especially when the days are crowded with meetings, calls and chatter. But today I broke through. Today, of all days. With that full bright moon looming. Coincidence? Probably not. This moon lights up for Virgo and is said to stimulate intellectual curiosity. In fact, this is the week to bust through what MindBodyGreen so aptly calls “analysis paralysis.” Your better believe I believe it. It’s not about checking off to-dos, though that may happen as a byproduct, but looking for inspiration and turning it into something real. I’m down. You down?

In addition to stewing on ideas to the point of analysis-paralysis, I’ve been doing some traveling these past few weeks. Never without the smartest travel jewelry case, ever, and my beloved Stephanie Johnson makeup bag. She just knows how to make traveling streamlined and chic. I’m excited to be over on the SJ Traveler blog talking about how I pack up my Fiona Dome. It’s the shape of a half-moon (how fitting) and accommodates enough to even appeal to the constant overpacker. Right this way to peep what’s in my SJ.

The Weekend Getaway


I spent the weekend in Savannah, which is charming as can be. I’m here in Georgia until later tonight and built in an extra day and a half to just explore Savannah. There’s something really nice about traveling alone and wandering around with no real destination. River-walking and southern porch-gazing gave me plenty to do. I also discovered an amazing boutique – Sylvester & Co – that I wish were in Chicago. Since I couldn’t buy the entire store and bring it back with me, I opted for this book. I also debuted my new Lo & Sons Catalina Tote which is my solution to ditching the carry-on suitcase. I got tired of having to gate check all the time and wanted something I could fit under the seat if need be. This bag rocks – I packed for three days (even running shoes – notoriously clunky) and I still have room to spare. It’s coming with me for Memorial Day, too, which is insanely already this weekend!


This week’s pretty picks is all about the travel bag…the large and small that make going on the road a little easier and more chic.

Also a fan of this Kate Spade Saturday Small Weekender Bag (currently on sale!) // I really like canvas backpacks – this striped version by Baggu and the slightly larger twill snap from Everlane. // I got the Catalina in the charcoal and black color since I thought it would wear better with time. // Stephanie Johnson is the authority on making travel bags work harder for you. The Martha Briefcase has removable compartments and the tall handles make it very easy to hang up. // I have an irrational fixation with these Truffle pouches. They are perfect for storing the miscellaneous stuff in your purse. // EcoTools makes an awesome brush roll that comes with an even more awesome brush, under $10 for both. It fits 12 brushes, which is more than enough for travel (even for me!)

first picture via Lo & Sons

Keep Calm and Blue Tansy On


The idea that things slow down during holidays is pure myth. I’m not complaining – life is good, but between holiday shopping, work, work travels, friends and family I am spent. I consider it a major success that I finished all of my holiday shopping and have all but a handful of gifts wrapped. Though, it’s followed by the fact that I didn’t send holiday cards this year. I am really kicking myself for not getting my sh*t together. No one is harder on me than me. Next year, I vow to plan ahead and have them ordered by November 1.

But, let’s focus on the positive. All of my holiday shopping is done! One of my favorite finds (that I may have self-gifted already…oops) is La Bella Figura Holiday Essential Mini Set. The LBF ladies were at Dose Market a couple Sundays ago and I scooped this right up. The star of the set is the brand spanking new Travel Therapy Mood Booster as well as mini rollerballs of the Daily Elements Defense and Barbary Fig Renewal Serum which are so handy for travel.  This mini deal was a fleeting one — not at all surprised to see it sold out already — but the Travel Therapy is sticking around, thankfully. It serves a purpose – calming you the eff down, but is an unbelievably sexy fragrance, too. The Blue Tansy essential oil has the most lovely aroma, especially when paired with Italian Blood Orange and Rose essential oils, and is the source of all that calming power. The oil is said to help release tension, anger and overwhelming feelings. Note: this is also a main ingredient in May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon. Perhaps this duo is how I’m surviving December?

Camp Gorgeous at Neiman’s, Natural Deodorant + the Perfect Weekend Bag


{Photo via Politics of Pretty}

The ‘Camp Gorgeous’ beauty event kicks off at Neiman Marcus on June 2. An $85 purchase gets you this adorable striped beach tote filled with beauty samples (I spy Exfolikate!) Chicago ladies, go see my girl Tess at LMdB for your beauty needs. (Politics of Pretty)

Really important question: Where in Chicago can I get a cronut? Detox exception? (Birchbox)

Natural deodorant is very subjective, but Kathy’s review of Soapwalla has me curious. (Beauty Palette)

Davines is expanding upon its popular Oi oil line to include a shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in. (Refinery29)

Searching for the perfect weekend travel bag? Me too. Which is why I think you’ll be very excited to see this. (Pretty and Fun)