Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fall Transitional Style with Tobi

Fall has officially arrived! Around here, the leaves haven't started dropping and most days are between 60 and 80 degrees. So, dressing for this transitional period can be a real challenge. My go-to style in the early autumn months consists of neutral delicate knits, gem tones, and layers!

I recently came across a great, affordable online fashion site called TOBI offers a wide range of clothing that is perfect for all different types of social occasions from brunch to cocktails & dancing, and all that's in between. On the whole I'd say they have a very romantic, feminine style with lace and floral details and flattering cut-outs. These fun, flirty looks are perfect for layering as we transition from hot summer days to crisp autumn weather.

Romper & Sweater: c/o Tobi, Bag: Longchamp, Necklace: Kate Spade
Earrings & Watch: Tory Burch, Sunglasses: Karen Walker, Sandals: Jack Rogers

I picked out the Sealed With a Kiss Floral Romper and Alessandria Cardigan from their collection for the end of summer. This sleeveless romper with an open back is perfect for days that still make it up to the high 70s/low 80s. You won't sweat on the subway or sitting out in the sunny park for a picnic! I love the combinations of colors, especially the deep amethyst background. I really loved the high collar as well, which makes it feel a bit more formal and perfect for fall. It's also an excellent value - now on sale for just $28 (originally $56).

When it gets a little breezy out or when temperatures drop in the evening, this lightweight slouchy blanket sweater adds just the right amount of warmth. It's got some nice mesh panels and an "inside-out" seam that add a fun casual mix of textures to the look. I especially love the 4-button detail on the cuffs. It even has pockets too. Since it's so light, it's easy to stash away in a tote or bucket bag. This heather grey provides the perfect neutral color that will go with literally anything. The sweater also comes in white, which looks really lovely too. This piece is great quality and an absolute steal at the moment at just $17 (originally $58).

Because TOBI is so affordable, it's a great place to shop for multiple layers you can wear across different seasons - cardigans, sweatshirts, crop tops, rompers, bodycon/wrap/maxi dresses, and more. The best part? In addition to their amazing prices they also offer regular sales. Right now you can get 50% off all tops with the code "FL50" at checkout. This offer is valid through 9/24/16 at 11:59pm PST.

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All clothing in this post was provided to me by TOBI.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

NYFW: People StyleWatch x Nautica Event

On Thursday I had the absolute pleasure of attending People StyleWatch Magazine's New York Fashion Week Party with Nautica and fashion blogger Kendall from Styled Snapshots. I always love StyleWatch events because their home team is so enthusiastic and they partner up with some really interesting brands.

It had been a long time since I last visited the Nautica store in Soho, located at 101 Prince Street. It's a nice, spacious boutique with lots of room to shop, lounge, and take in the latest styles without feeling like you have salespeople breathing down your neck. They really play up the fun nautical motif with rope adorned light fixtures, a wire sculpture of a sailboat, sailing flags, and lots of great photographs. You really feel like you're near the coast!

The event itself was really fantastic. There was an intimate group of about 75 guests, mostly local bloggers and influencers or bloggers in town for New York Fashion Week. DJ Carver spun some relaxing beats and the hors d'oeuvres were creative and delicious - seared tuna, mini burgers, and fig & blue cheese tarts galore paired with refreshing glasses of chilled white wine. 

There were also stylists on-hand to create all kinds of great braided hairstyles. They were really receptive of everyone's personal styles and created everything from classic fishtail braids to teased "faux-hawks". Kendall was a really warm hostess as well and floated around the party chatting with each of us. She was super bubbly and down-to-earth. She wore this lovely Striped Sleeveless Dress that looked so flattering on her! Thinking about getting it myself. The People StyleWatch team gave us issues of this month's magazine along with a cute little "Fashion Week Survival Pouch" packed with useful things like chapstick, gum, and hair ties.

Of course I love all things nautical and preppy and, admittedly, I hadn't spent much time looking at styles from the Nautica store before. So, it was really nice to be re-introduced to this classic brand adorned with stripes galore! Check out some of my picks from their latest collections below.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Valentia Pure Glow Brightening Moisturizer Review

Valentia is a fabulous new skin care line formulated with natural and organic cosmetic ingredients. I love the name because Valentia was the Roman goddess of healing who relied on nature's gifts to heal the citizens of Umbria (yes, that's my Classics major shining through...). This product is natural, free of toxins, and paraben-free. It also helps tackle a great variety of skincare concerns: repairing skin damaged by sun or wind, preventing signs of aging such as wrinkles and dark spots, and reversing the effects of oxidative stress on skin.

I found that this product made my skin look positively radiant. It evened out my skin tone within minutes - I have quite a bit of redness! It also helped diminish some of the fine lines around my eyes and forehead. Additionally, even though I have very dry skin, I found that the product very effectively provided all-day hydration without any need to re-apply.

I've definitely tried a lot of moisturizers and what I think makes the difference with this product are the key ingredients. The botanical Hyaluronic Acid locks in moisture, supports skin elasticity, and plumps skin from within. The Kojic Acid controls melanin production and prevents dark spots while helping even out your skin tone. The Ginseng boosts skin firming collagen, fights wrinkles, and brightens and energizes your look. The Safflower Oil repairs your skin's natural moisture barrier. Finally, the Shea Butter infuses skin with vitamins and minerals. Admittedly I have tried several products on the market that contain Hyaluronic Acid, Ginseng, and Shea Butter - but, I've never found one with all three! Since we all have busy lives, who wants to waste time applying multiple product?

I look forward to trying out more Valentia products in the future after this great first experience. Be sure to check out the brand's website, Instagram, Facebook, and Amazon pages to learn more about them (and to purchase their products).

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This product was provided to me for free for review purposes from Valentia via Brandbacker.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Edit

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is now in full swing! It opened up today (for those of us that don't hold a Nordstrom credit card) and ends on August 8th. Check out my picks below for some fashionable finds at all different price points. Go ahead and treat yourself this summer with something sweet! 

There are lots of great finds this year from top brands like: Kate Spade, L.K. Bennett, Molton Brown, Ted Baker, Hunter, Milly, Mara Hoffman, Kiehl's, Tory Burch, Kendra Scott, and more. All items are pretty limited in quantity so be sure to shop the sale early for the best deals. See you over on the #NSale site, Nordy Girl!


$200 & Under

$100 & Under

$50 & Under

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Play! by Sephora June 2016 Review

As you may have noticed if you saw my review last month, this is my second Play! by Sephora box - ever! It took a while to get off the waitlist, but it's been well worth it so far. I was really pleased with my first box and this one certainly didn't let me down either.

BareMinerals BareSkin Sheer Sun Serum Bronzer
(Full Size, $28)

At first glance, this product looked far too dark for my fair skintone. However, it blends extremely well - just remember that a little goes a very long way! I would recommend just using a single drop in one area and spreading it around with either your finger or a Beauty Blender. 

I've read elsewhere that it works nicely when blended into your foundation or moisturizing cream. I think I'll try it in my moisturizing cream next time. That sounds like a really great way to get a subtle glow. 

I don't know if the full size bottle has the same applicator. I don't believe it does. I was a bit surprised by the applicator on this sample. It looks almost like an eye dropper but the opening is actually quite large, so product comes out quickly.

Becca Backlight Priming Filter
(Full Size, $38)

I don't really use any other products like this at the moment, so this was a fun new product to experiment with this month. As you can see below, the product goes on in a nice thick texture. It just kind of rests on top of your skin, so you need to make sure to blend it in well with a sponge or your finger. It has a nice glow and can be layered with any other products you would like in your routine. It provides a sort of nice, glistening base that makes your face look energized and healthy. It reminded me a bit of the Tarte Illuminating Moisturizer which seems to be a product they are phasing out of most retail stores. This Becca product works more as a highlighter than an overall moisturizer or BB cream though.

The swatches above will show you what the products were like when first applied to my skin tone. The top one is the Becca product which matched my skin tone very well but came out really thick. The bottom one is the Bare Minerals product which came out extremely dark but could be easily blended across that patch of my skin to look much more natural.

Benefit They're Real! Lengthening & Volumizing Mascara
(Full Size, $24 / Travel Size, $12)

This mascara has been my go-to for several years now. So, needless to say, I was pretty thrilled to get a sample in this box. It's always nice to have a travel-sized version for my purse. This mascara adds incredible length and volume to your lashes to make them instantly glamorous. The brush shape also lends itself well to helping you create some curl in your lashes. This is the main mascara I use, so I could go on for days. If you haven't tried it, you definitely should! 

The only negative things about it I can possibly think of are: 1) it creates a pretty dramatic effect so you might want to use a more subtle mascara for the office and 2) some people say this mascara is really hard to remove - my experience, it's actually not at all, just get some TopCare/Ponds/Simple make-up removing wipes and you can very easily get it off.

Bumble & Bumble Don't Blow It (H)air Styler
(Full Size, $31 / Travel Size, $15)

I have to admit I was a bit in the dark about how to use this product because there are no instructions provided on the tube or on the pamphlet that describes the products in the box. So, I have no idea whether I used the right amount of product (about the size of a quarter) at the right time (after my hair had air dried a little bit following a shower). 

Since I air dry my hair more often than not, this product sounded like a great one for me. The first time I used it, I used it in the same washing as another new product, a John Frieda gloss. So, I have to admit it was hard to tell which product caused which effect. However, my hair turned out being so soft to the touch and beautifully shiny that I was just floored. 

Admittedly, I did try the product a second time without the John Frieda gloss and noticed much less of an impact. My hair was relatively smooth and most of the "bumps" or "waves" I dislike in the back of my hair were minimized. However, I did get a bit of a cowlick toward the back of my part from air drying my hair. I wouldn't say in that instance I noticed that this product made a huge difference. I think I will need to try it a few more times to really make up my mind.

Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
(Full Size, $32 / Travel Size, $12)

First off, I love this sample because the packaging is just so lovely. The little bottle is actually made of glass, not plastic! It is super easy to use and fragrance-free. When applied about 30 minutes before you go out in the sun, this sunscreen will keep you protected for about 2-3 hours. It's really gentle on your skin and is great for your face. If you apply a few drops to your hands, rub it around, and then pat it on your face, you can get pretty full coverage after you apply your makeup.

Tocca "Florence" Eau de Parfum
(Full Size, $68 / Travel Size, $34 / Rollerball, $22)

This perfume has a really lovely (but strong!) Gardenia scent. I absolutely love Gardenia so this is a great fit for me. A little goes a long way, so dab on just 1 drop if you want a subtle all-day scent, or 2-3 if you want something more noticeable. In my Play! Date event Catherine from the Sephora team suggested mixing it in with lotion for an all-over subtle scent. She also pointed out the really unique high-quality metal cap on the full-sized bottle. Not only does it have an intricate attention to detail, but no two metal caps are the same! What a fun thing to know - each bottle is unique and collectable.

I delayed posting this review for a little bit because I did get to go to the Play! Date event this month at my local store. It was just this past Thursday. I have to admit that my expectations from this other blogger's review set the bar really high. I think these events vary greatly from store to store and my local store (86th Street in NYC) was nothing like that. It was definitely not as big of a production - more of a "welcome to the neighborhood store". 

The event was from 7-8pm. When I arrived at 7:15pm it looked like there wasn't any event going on at all in the store. I went around a bend and found a tiny table set up in one corner with the products from this month's box. There were two staff members talking to a group of three women. I popped over and joined them, making the Play! Date a total of 4. Nobody new joined after me and by the point when I joined they'd already gone through explaining half the products. I had no idea I needed to be there right at 7 on the dot, I thought it was more of a "drop-in" event. The explanation of how to use each product ended around 7:30pm and that was the end of the event. 

The staff members, April and Catherine, were extremely knowledgeable and it was such a delight to meet them. It was a great, really brief event, it just wasn't what I'd expected from other review which reported that there was a big crowd, a bag of giveaways, selfie stations, and makeup applications (other than the mini makeovers always available) - my location didn't have any of that. Next time I might check out the Play! Date at another location to see if it's any bigger.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Birchbox "Multifaceted and Mighty" June 2016 Review

This month rather than selecting a sample choice, I went for the curated box. After all, it has two of my absolute favorite brands in it - Nuxe and Davines - so why would I take a risk? It turned out to be a really nice variety of makeup, skincare, and haircare. Everything sort of had that natural, effortless feel to it. 

Davines Authentic Cleansing Nectar for Hair & Body (Full Size, $28.50)

Davines Authentic Replenishing Butter for Face, Hair, & Body (Full Size, $38.50)

Admittedly I haven't used either of these samples yet because I want to save them for when I really need a high-end travel size shampoo & conditioner for a trip. However, I have to say that the Italian haircare brand Davines is my absolute go-to for the most incredible hair days. I regularly use their OI and MOMO, and MINU collections. They are better than any other shampoo or conditioner I've ever used. The down side is that they are quite expensive. However, I have to say I think they might weigh down your hair a bit if you use them every single day. I try to rotate them into my haircare routine about 2-3 times each week to keep my hair looking fresh, shiny, and sleek. This set has a really nice light herbal scent.

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick in Haute Cocoa (Full Size, $10)

One application and I'm absolutely sold! This is a fantastic on-the-go eyeshadow. I was in a rush to get to a birthday this weekend and was able to steadily apply this on a moving train.

The crayon glides so smoothly but is very easy to control and doesn't smudge or get too blunt. This was the perfect shimmering shade of brown that works for both the summer (bronzed/golden look) and the autumn. It is long lasting and doesn't seem to easily melt or smudge. The concentration of pigment is relatively intense and the application is pretty exact, so I intentionally smudged it with my fingers just a little bit after applying it to avoid the crisp lines and to take away/lighten some of the pigment. 

Nuxe Reve de Miel Facial Cleansing and Make-up Removing Gel (Full Size, $19)

I am absolutely obsessed with French hair and skincare brand Nuxe. It is such a great, high-quality brand offered a reasonable mid-tier prices. It's also so easily accessible in the US now - available through Target, Birchbox, and their own site (which offers free shipping pretty frequently and lots of great gifts with purchase)!

Everything in their "Reve de Miel" line has the most heavenly scent of honey. I have been using their Reve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream for years. This product is also very impressive. It still has the lovely scent but comes out as a medium-thick translucent gel. It's really easy to apply to your whole face or just one particular spot. You just rub it in a circular motion to massage it into your skin a bit and rinse off. It removes all kinds of makeup really easily - even gel eyeliner and mascara. It's important to note though that this product is not recommended to use around your eyes - trust me, I had a bit of an oopsy trying to remove some eyeliner from near my tear duct, it will definitely sting! I would recommend putting some on a tissue and dabbing it on your lids and lashes keeping your eyes completely closed the whole time, if you plan to use it to remove eye makeup.

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer (Full Size, $21)

I was pretty excited about receiving this product in my Birchbox because I have very dry skin and am always looking for effective moisturizers. The active ingredient in this one is Hyaluronic Acid which isn't something overly unusual. You can find it in a lot of drugstore brand moisturizers like Neutrogena. The texture was pretty average as well. It's not thick like a Nivea cream, in fact it's a bit runny. I found that my dry skin seeped it up right away. So, I needed to use about half of the sample just to cover my whole face. Even with that, my skin didn't feel particularly soft or dewy to the touch. It still felt very matte and dry. I will say that my complexion did look pretty even - perhaps it calmed some of the redness. However, I wouldn't count on this as a staple moisturizer for those with really dry skin.

The Beauty Crop PBJ Beauty Stick in Raisin the Roof (Full Size, $14.95)

The "Raisin the Roof" color is a nice sort of purplish light pink. It goes on relatively sheer, so if you want some real pigment, you will need to apply several layers. The product glides on really nicely and feels really moisturizing. Unfortunately, I found that the pigment kind of stuck to certain parts of my lips vs. others (i.e. especially to any chapped/dry parts) so the color looked uneven, kind of light purplish clumpy spots sitting on top of the majority - the natural color of my lips which is darker than this. It looked pretty awful and the color wouldn't blend at all. So, as much as I loved the slick moisturizing feel of this product, I definitely didn't like the look.

Here's a comparison of the Raisin the Roof PBJ Smoothie Stick (top) vs. Guava Nice Day PBJ Smoothie Stick (bottom). Since I received the Guava Nice Day one in my Rifle Paper Co Birchbox just two months ago, I thought I'd point out that they are two different colors - but not super distinct from one another. The Guava one is a bit more reddish pink rather than purple, and a bit more bold.

So long for now, BB!

Unfortunately since Birchbox changed their points system this month and I recently started the Sephora Play! subscription, this may be my last Birchbox monthly review for a little bit. I can't believe it's been so long. I bought my first Birchbox back in 2012! Sadly, my annual subscription ends this month. I may get a few more boxes on the monthly subscription basis at a later date, but I'm having trouble justifying the annual subscription again (between the change in the points system and my accummulation of so many sample products I haven't used up yet or need to swap/sell). It's nice to end this 33 box, 183 sample journey on a high note though! Of course, I'll still buy full-size products from their website and Soho store. They both have excellent selection and superb customer service!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Influenster Bloom Voxbox Review

I was thrilled to get not one, but two Influenster Voxboxes this month! You may have already seen my review of the Influenster Procter & Gamble Voxbox. Well, the Bloom Voxbox was extra special too! It had a nice variety of product: nailcare, haircare, deodorant, bodycare, and food.

Sinful Colors Professional Nail Polish Enamel in Teal Midnight ($2.00)

From everything I've seen, Sinful Colors Nail Polishes are a real steal. If you're looking for a quick, cheap color to match a particular outfit, this is definitely your brand. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the color I received in this box. Being in my late 20s, I don't wear a lot of bright blue glitter on my nails anymore. I left that back in my Limited Too days. When I put it on it looked bluish-purple so I decided to nickname it "the mermaid manicure". It's definitely a lot lighter than it looks in the bottle. I see this color is no longer available on their website, so perhaps it wasn't too popular. However, the polish was quick drying and was relatively thick - only required 2 coats for a translucent look, 3 coats for an opaque look. Check out my Sinful Colors manicure here.

Cutex Advanced Revival Nail Polish Remover Pads ($1.49)

This sample was full-sized which includes three individually wrapped pads. What they advertise is absolutely true. Each one of these Nail Polish Remover Pads will remove regular nail polish (and top/base coat) from all 10 of your fingernails. It really worked like a charm and didn't require much scrubbing.

I then got a little greedy and tried to use the same one on my toes. Unfortunately it doesn't really work for more than 10 nails. I found that they weren't quite as effective on my toes. I don't know why. I really struggled to get the same polish off with them. So, I would definitely recommend these for your manicures but perhaps not for pedicures.
They are really perfect for travel. You can avoid bringing an extra liquid with you and they don't make a mess or have a particularly strong smell. I always forget to bring nail polish remover along with me on a trip. If I'm attending a wedding or another big event I always bring polish or get my nails done during the trip at a nail salon. It's important to bring along remover too just in case a nail chips and needs to be re-painted or you need to change your nail color to match a last-minute wardrobe change. Chipped nails never look great at a formal event.

Not Your Mother's Plump for Joy Thickening Hair Lifter ($5.99)

Admittedly volume isn't a major issue for me unless I haven't washed my hair in a while and haven't used any dry shampoo. My hair is marginally fine but there's a lot of it and while it's relatively straight, it's definitely got some waviness to it that gives it natural volume. So, I can't say I initially thought this product was really made for me. Thin, flat hair is never really my problem. Maybe the occasional cowlick instead when I get out of bed after sleeping on wet hair!

This spray can be used on either damp or dry hair. I opted for trying it on dry hair because I thought it would be easier to see the results that way. The product comes out as a sort of lotion spray which you spray into your palms and spread on your hands. When you apply it to your hair, you simply scrunch your hair with your hands from ends to roots. The product has a really nice peach or apricot scent. I didn't notice any added shine to be honest, but I did see some instant volume. I think this product would be more effective if I had more fine or thinner hair.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil ($23.20)

Nuxe is one of my absolute favorite brands, so I was absolutely thrilled to see Influenster include it in this box. I first learned about the brand while traveling in Paris. It's a local favorite at the French chain store Monoprix (sort of an upscale Target equivalent). I definitely consider this more on the luxe side of skin and haircare. The quality definitely stacks up with premium brands. However, in addition to higher-end retailers like Ulta and Birchbox, you can also now buy a lot of Nuxe items at Target and Amazon.

The one thing I love about all Nuxe products is that they have subtle but very delightful scents. This is especially true of my favorite product in their line, the Reve de Miel Hand & Nail Cream, which smells deliciously of honey. This Dry Oil is no exception to the rule with its light, powdery botanic scent. If you use this product on a significant portion of your skin, there's really no need to wear a fragrance or use any other scented body lotion, spray, or cleanser.

What I really like about this product is that it is multi-purpose. It's great for moisturizing your face and body to make it silky-smooth AND it can help make your hair shiny and healthy. I like to use it as a "shower oil" right before I've toweled off to help lock in some moisture in some problem areas like my forearms and elbows. It absorbs quickly and doesn't leave any greasy residue - perhaps because of the 6 Precious Botanical Oils and Vitamin E in it. It's also a great way to add some shine to your hair if you have to skip a conditioner or use a cheap hotel one that leaves your hair squeaky clean. 

Secret Outlast Xtend Antiperspirant & Deodorant ($3.99)

I'll spare you the repeat review, as I also received this item in my Influenster Procter & Gamble Voxbox this month. You can read my previous review here.

Sunbelt Bakery Oats & Honey Chewy Granola Bar ($2.69)

This was a lot more moist and chewy than I expected. I was actually very pleasantly surprised by this. They just break apart like a rice krispy treat! I can see why they advertise it as having a "bakery-fresh taste". It's a lot more like the taste of the Quaker Chewy granola bars I had as a kid, but the size of a Nature Valley granola bar (1 piece of the 2-bar packs). It's sweet but not too sweet (contains 12 grams of sugar). The full size is a package of ten, so the price is an absolute steal. I will say that looking at the nutrition facts there's nothing super healthy about them as opposed to an average granola bar but they definitely serve as a nice breakfast item or snack to keep you full throughout the day.

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I received all of these products for free for review purposes via Influenster, but all opinions are my own.

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