What to Wear: Weekend Escape to Laguna's Montage...

One great thing about having close girlfriends with similar taste? They ask me what to pack for their upcoming trips. One such bestie is headed out to a personal favorite spot: Laguna Beach. Ahhhh, California living epitomized at the stylish Montage Hotel. Yes, darling, I can definitely pack your getaway bag for you! 

First, let's scope out the scene. The Montage is known for its unobstructed views of the Pacific, five-star culinary experiences and incredible spa. Did I mention the gorgeous suites? This is an ideal spot to escape with your partner and let the sound of the crashing waves below & palm tree fronds above take all your cares away. California dreaming? Definitely. So let's get on with the business of mapping out this weekend wardrobe, shall we? 

The vibe? Relaxed yet chic. Elegantly undone. It's the west coast, after all. The mood? Sunny & romantic in a quietly upscale way. The look? A versatile mix of flowy pieces that will take her from poolside chaise to reservations at 8:00 looking flawless and feeling free. So... let's get down to the business of packing, shall we? 

  • First rule: versatility is key. Select pieces that pack easily and play nicely with others.
  • Rule two: no iron is the best iron. Think: jersey knits or linen items that embrace the crinkled look.
  • Rule three: When in doubt, go for the gold. Metallic accessories elevate even a simple black slip-on dress. Embrace them.
  • Finally: less is more. Fewer colors + fewer pieces = fewer decisions + a more enjoyable trip

WHAT TO WEAR: WEEKEND ESCAPE TO LAGUNA // DAY ONE

Net-a-Porter Travel Set // Eres Black Essentials Suit // Saint Laurent Metallic Clutch or Shoulder Bag

The result? Simple outfits that take you from day to night with the simple change of a shoe (graduating to higher heels for night) and swapping the necklace for the sunnies as the sun sets. Boss move? Slip a chic clutch into your tote for maximum versatility and pull it out for after dark glamour. And do NOT forget the sunscreen ladies! (Here's my choice via Omorovicza). Happy travels! xoxo

From the Window Seat: My On-the-Go Luxuries...

I had the pleasure of being featured in the spring/summer issue of Ligné Magazine showcasing all manner of jet set chic features and luxurious travel stories. They asked me to share the products I can't live without when I head out on a trip, a topic I'm clearly passionate about (8 years of blog posts can confirm this!) and hold many tips I'm eager to share.  

Below are what I shared with the lifestyle magazine as my jet set all-stars. The reality is that most of these products are winners at home, too. I hope you'll discover a few gems to add to your private arsenal for journeys far and wide. After all, every day in itself is an adventure and an opportunity to experience new things. 

With that... enjoy my list of personal luxuries...

IN-FLIGHT LUXURIES

The Chic Multiwheel Cabin Bag
When it comes to a carryon, it’s all about the wheels and protecting those precious goods inside. I’m loving the hardbody of this sleek bag. Best part? It’s TSA approved and navigates those airport turnstiles like a dream. Bonus: your beauty goods & fabulous shoes won’t lose their precious shape inside. Options abound for small in-flight workhorses. Hard-bodied Victorinox Swiss Army luggage is hard to beat (and easy to spy on the carousel, should you decide to check it), as is an ever-reliable black Tumi. But my heart will always be with a classic Vuitton carryon, as it speaks to the heritage of travel itself. 

The Universally Flattering Black Jumpsuit
Some things you can just count on. Death. Taxes. My love of packing an all-black travel wardrobe. Give me a fabulous jumpsuit and I’m a happy girl. Dress it up, play it down. You can’t go wrong with these wardrobe workhorses. My favorites are sleeveless and black. This one is absolutely perfect. Pro tip: this Norma Kamali version is perfect for a long day of wrinkle-free travel but looks dinner-ready when paired with jewelry and heels. The Swiss Army knife of your wardrobe.

The Chic Ballet Flat
Nothing makes you appreciate a good flat like travel. I love the easy on / easy off quality of a ballet flat but they usually lack any arch support. These Cole Haans are not only comfortable, they are light as a feather and allow your feet to breathe. Yes, this high heel diva has learned to love (and enjoy) a hard working flat for long travel days and exploring the city on foot. 

Saint Laurent Monogram Crossbody Tassel Bag
I’m a firm believer in a cross-body bag that can go from day to night and tarmac to rooftop. This Saint Laurent bag does it all - not to mention it slides neatly into a larger tote during the flight. 

Chloe “Marcie” Sunglasses
Never underestimate the power of oversized sunglasses. They disguise tired eyes (hello, jet lag!) and add instant polish and intrigue to your look - day or night. My current faves the lightweight acetate frames with vintage-styling & glam gold hardware. Very Rachel Zoe.  Shop them here.

iPhone 6
There is no better travel luxury than my beloved iPhone 6. All the technology a girl could hope for right at my fingertips. From instagramming my coffee moments to keeping tabs on clients to capturing precious family moments on video, the ultimate travel accessory rests in the palm of my hand. How did we ever survive before? I would never go anywhere without this lovely golden modern miracle! 

PRE & POST-TAKEOFF ESSENTIALS

Eric Javitz Squishee Sun Cap
If I’m going anywhere sunny, a hat is a must. I love that this one can be tossed in a bag and still retain its shape perfectly. Better yet? This one allows for a ponytail in the back. Yes, long-haired girls can rejoice and those of you with short & chic 'do's can enjoy the stylish silhouette! You have to love a chic hat that keeps the harsh sun at bay and helps you have fab hair. Winner!

Clarins Broad-Spectrum UV Plus 
Speaking of sunshine… nothing will ever replace Clarins UV Plus in my cosmetic pouch. This tiny bottle lasts forever and is my saving grace for the delicate skin of my face, décolletage & hands. I can’t say enough great things about it and would never board a plane (or leave my house) without it. This is my main squeeze when it comes to sun protection and I basically hoard it for fear they'll discontinue it. Fortunately the small bottle is TSA-friendly (read: small enough to carry on) and makes for invisible, easy application. If you've been looking for "the one" this is it!

Clarins Sun Care Milk SPF 50+
Somewhere between the best moisturizer ever and the most lightweight body SPF ever, this dreamy bottle appears. I discovered it last summer and am now a dedicated fan. A few easy sprays by the pool and I’m ready to catch up on my reading without fear of too much sun. Bonus: it leaves skin as smooth as silk and beautifully hydrated. Don't be tempted to use it on your face - the formula is completely different from the facial formulation. This falls squarely into the "great from the neck down" category. 

The Glam Lightweight Cashmere Scarf
Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month long journey, I always pack scarves. Right now I’m loving Diane’s leopard version. It’s featherlight and goes with anything. Toss around your neck pre-flight for a pop of pattern and a way to keep that cold cabin air at bay. During the trip its uses will be nearly limitless. Not to mention they weigh almost nothing and can be tossed in your tote the moment you want to take it off. For me, these gauzy creations are the absolutely perfect travel accessory. DVF makes high quality versions that are truly timeless and will make you look and feel like a million bucks in any city. 

The Large Black Nylon Tote
Travel bags must be roomy and incredibly lightweight. I prefer nylon totes that can take the abuse they will inevitably face on a trip. Let's face it, air travel and car rides aren't good for our precious bags. I’m a big fan of Longchamp’s understated appeal and nearly bulletproof construction. This one has a zip top (for added security) and is roomy enough to hold my magazines, iPad, water bottles and anything else I’d love to keep on hand. 

Omorovicza Plumping Cream
My facialist and the gugus at the brand's counter call this “Cinderella cream” for good reason. One simple treatment and your face looks dewy, plump and youthful, like a fairy tale. Boom! Instant Plumping Cream is my go-to special occasion moisturizer for combating the dry skin and unsightly dehydration that always accompanies air travel. Frankly, I love this at home as well. It's an investment, but well worth its myriad benefits.

A Powerhouse Beauty Elixir Mist
Now that I’ve discovered the magic of beauty mists, there’s no turning back. These dew-inducing, skin-plumping miracle workers refresh your face and boost your mood in mere seconds. The best of the bunch are filled with anti-aging powerhouses that work hard to fight free radicals and turn back the clock. Another perk? A light fragrance is mood elevating and tells your senses "you've arrived" once it's wheels down in your destination of choice. This version from Caudalie is tiny enough to toss in your tote for the flight. Also try Omorovicza's Queen of Hungary Mist - a spectacular version of the mist category that is to be used in conjunction with their Instant Plumping Cream mentioned above. A serious one-two punch for revitalizing your face. 

Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod Body Scrub
Body scrubs are a favorite beauty product for me at home. When traveling I like to kick it up a notch with a more invigorating variety of body exfoliator. Molton Brown’s Pink Pepperpod scrub turbo charges my showers with its exotic fragrance and body-tingling (hello, ginger!) qualities. This beauty staple never fails to get me in a vacation state of mind. 

Cris Notti Silk Eye Masks
Seriously, I live for these lovely little creations. I use a silk eye mask every night at home and on trips I always pack more than one because (I’ve learned this the hard way) losing one along the way means losing precious sleep. These soft silk masks are absolutely perfect for mid-flight catnaps but more importantly, they guarantee you’ll be able to sleep in long after the sun peeks through the sheers at the hotel. 

Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillow
In lieu of taking my own pillow while trailing, I opt instead for a high-tech (and silky soft) pillowcase. This one is constructed from copper-oxide rich fibers and is not only easier on your lovely visage,it actually combats the signs of aging. Those are all qualities I’m going to say “yes, please” to, especially after a long flight. Say "nighty night" to creases, lines and other would-be beauty enemies. 

Don't miss the rest of the superb issue of Ligné Magazine which features many familiar faces and exciting places. I look forward to receiving the next issue to discover which luxe topic they tackle next. Have a great day, everyone! Life life fabulously.  

Destinations: A Sleek Escape to Singapore...

All I can say over this hotel is a mouth agape WOW. Singapore is one of those amazing places I simply can't wait to visit. The celebration of the city-state's superrich new money society was widely celebrated in Crazy Rich Asians (a must-read, by the way) and enlightened many of us to the wonders of this hot spot on the tip of the Malay peninsula. Singapore is a wondrous land of business deals and bank accounts only barely eclipsed by the height of the insane height of the shining downtown skyscrapers. 

Where to stay? The Fullerton Bay Hotel looks amazing in every respect, although the Marina Bay Sands boasts the infinity pool that is much the obsession of travelers, pinners and thrill-seekers everywhere. Fullerton shines like a polished gem in the Marina Bay district. A sparkling steel creation with opulent interiors worthy of adoration, it actually reads "low key" compared to its more ostentatious neighbors. Just look at those well-appointed rooms, plush velvet sofas and iridescent textural walls. As a design fan I assure you, this is one swanky place to rest your weary shopping-fatigued feet.

Speaking of shopping... what to wear, what to wear in Singapore, you ask? I'm so glad you inquired. Let's pack a make-believe suitcase. I love to pack for comfort and style. A black jumpsuit is a standby I am grateful for constantly. It takes you from airport to sky bar without skipping a beat. Wear a crossbody bag for convenience and security and by all means, don't be shy about wearing flats. Especially if you'll be checking out the sights, a comfy pair of shoes (especially of the studded variety) will look far more chic than you hobbling through the lobby on your blistered feet.  

Along those lines, I love to pack away a neutral makeup set that has a bit of everything in one compact palette. Laura Mercier always turns it out with her amazing sets. The compact size makes it easy to freshen up post-landing. Spritz on some of your favorite exotic fragrance to add to the "we're just a 85 miles north of the equator" vibe and you're all set. Sunglasses, of course, are a must. My favorite are all oversized and exude an effortless air of mystery while still protecting you letting your jet lag show. Fine luggage: chic. Bags under eyes: not so chic. 

For the flight itself, don't skip wrapping a luxe scarf around your neck for warmth and comfort. Once you've headed out for dinner & drinks, switch it out for a glam bib necklace. Also post-flight: Omorovicza makes the most amazing facial mist. Somehow, some way this delicately fragranced mist brings tired skin back to life. In addition to the skin plumping qualities, the aromatic wonders of this Hungarian spray are almost magical. Toss a travel kit into your tote for a pre-landing zhush session. 

Rimowa Topas Titanium Multiwheel Weekender // Rachel Pally Heathcliff Jersey Jumpsuit // See by Chloe Beki Tote // Saint Laurent Cross Body Monogram Bag // Valentino Rockstud Flats // Tory Burch Leopard Scarf // Kate Spade Statement Necklace // Chloe "Marcie" Oversized Glasses // Byredo Baudeliare Eau de Parfum // Omorocicza Travel Essentials Kit // Laura Mercier "Nude" Limited Edition Set

Now... on to the business of what to do in this lively environment? Try the surprisingly fun hawker food markets for anything you can dream of dining (and many things you'd never have imagined). Indulge in a night safari at the zoo. Shopping is almost a natural sport, of course. But if Instagram is to be believed (and of course, it is) the Singaporean experience is all about the rooftop. Swimming, dining, sipping cocktails and taking in the panoramic views from any of the city's many cloud kissing buildings. Don't miss your chance to take the elevator to the top and enjoy the sunset (or sunrise as it may be) from your choice of venues. 

So... do dish my traveling friends! Have you been to Singapore? What spots do you suggest? Is it all business or is it actually a fun tourist destination. Will there be more to it than just taking a luxe cab ride to a strand of high end boutiques and swimming in an infinity edge pool? Do tell, do tell! 

Beauty: My Blissful Nightly Hungarian Skin Care Ritual...

As many of you know I am a huge Omorovicza fan, always keeping a few products in my stable. Yet as often happens, we periodically drift off to a new counter at the department store or begin acquiring various potions and promising cures from our dermatologist. But remember I'm a results-oriented girl and am very selective about what products occupy my vanity. After considerable trial and error I'm once again committed to the healing properties (yes, healing) of those legendary thermal waters in Budapest and the skin care line that celebrates them. Frankly, they heal the skin and deliver such beautiful results they deserve to be the core of my skin care repertoire. 

OMOROVICZA: THE BRAND HISTORY

Omorovicza's brand history is as beautiful as the soft, clear skin it produces on legions of loyal customers. A rare professional opportunity to move overseas led the American-born co-founder to discover an all-natural cure for her complexion woes and (perhaps more importantly) an introduction to her now husband and co-founder Steven von Heinrich Omorovicza. Like many of us, Margaret struggled to find the remedy for blemishes and other skin issues. She soon discovered that the simple cultural ritual of spending time in the local baths (open air spas) was transforming her skin into something marvelous. That chance introduction to Steven blossomed. In addition to discovering their love for one another, they developed a shared passion for the unique health benefits provided by the mineral rich spring waters of Budapest. Working as a team, they developed innovative technologies to deliver the miraculous powers of the thermal waters from his family's spa to the world. A game-changing brand and a beautiful marriage were born.  

MINERAL-RICH WATER: THE SOURCE

Omorovicza products are all made without parabens, without chemicals and (save for precious retinol) the ingredients are completely natural. What is it about the water in this international city? The Earth's crust in Budapest is thinner than anywhere else in the world, making the waters indulgently rich in minerals. Richer than any other spot on the planet. Heat from the earth's core rises up, pushing precious life-giving elements to the surface. Over centuries travelers have come from far and wide to dip their bodies in the heated baths that offer ease and healing to the body and mind. Minerals are essential to your health and your skin's radiance, so short of hopping on a jet to Budapest yourself, these little bottled wonders are the next best thing to the fountain of youth. 

Why does the water matter? Because about 70% or more of the contents of every elixir, serum & miracle moisturizer sold by every brand is water. it's the first ingredient on every ingredient list. It makes sense then that different water would yield different results. This was the change Margaret saw naturally in her skin when she moved to Budapest. This is the change I've begun to see in my own skin. 

MY NIGHTLY RITUAL

I begin each nightly ritual with clean skin, and for me that means mild exfoliation. I feel it's wasteful to apply high quality products to clogged pores and unprepared skin. So my Refining Skin Polisher is the product of choice to gently buff away the day and encourage cell turnover. Buh-bye lackluster complexion! I use very little (here's a previous mention of it) and have been using the same generously sized tube for many months. It will last and serves as a mask as well when you need an extra dose of "pretty" in your routine. 

My initial favorite from the collection (several years ago) was the award-winning Instant Plumping Mask. Forget fillers, this little jar of wonders will leave your skin hydrated and plumped to perfection without a needle in sight. It works by way of ushering water into thirsty little hyaluronic acid spheres that swell and add volume to the skin. It's a thing of wonder when used before an event or as an overnight treatment, but over time it serves to add more bounce to the skin and deliver visible lift. I love using it on my upper cheekbones and under the eyes. I use it every other night to keep things looking fresh. After application spray generous amounts of the Queen of Hungary mist to soak the mask and give it fluid to absorb. Sit back and await as your skin rejoices & plumps in just the right places. 

On alternate nights I really go to work with a one-two punch of encapsulated retinol. The Gold Night Drops serum is non-irritating and goes to work fighting those pesky fine lines and early signs of aging. You'll never, ever worry about waking up with tender pink skin, as this luxurious serum is so gentle. The second weapon of choice is the Rejuvenating Night Cream. Oh, how I love this little jar! The cream is silky and soft and contains (again) encapsulated retinol to ramp up your anti-aging arsenal. Used lightly on face and neck I love the way this emollient formula leaves my skin feeling pampered. The best part? Waking up to perky skin that enjoyed the benefits of jojoba, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory ingredients and that wondrous thermal water as a base.

WHAT'S IN THE MIX

USEFUL TIPS & TRICKS 

I've learned to only use the Instant Plumping Mask on my cheekbones, cheek pads and under the eyes. It's where I want volume and I see no reason to place it on my forehead, nose or upper lids. I have experimented with applications on the lips but can't determine if I'm seeing any volume change there or not. But for the cheek area it is sheer bliss. Experiment with it as you see fit and get to know the contours of your face. Adding water is a MUST to see results. The cream alone needs added moisture to work effectively. I like their Queen of Hungary mist for purely personal reasons, but have consistently had excellent results with pure water. In fact, perhaps because I'm more free wheeling with the tap water I see greater results. The Queen of Hungary mist is a FABULOUS product on its own for setting makeup or giving yourself a lovely pick me up during the day. It smells fantastic and is packed with good for you ingredients like orange blossom, rose, sage and apple pectin alongside (you guessed it) rich minerals. 

The Gold Night Drops come with an innovative dropper system making it pretty much impossible to waste this precious fluid. Due to cost I use it sparingly and prefer to mix mine with my fingertips with the Rejuvenating Night Cream. I find that just a bit of both go a long way and combined make a decadent treat for my skin overnight. Retinol with no redness or flaking? I'm in! 

MY BEAUTIFUL RESULTS

Now that I've recommitted I am absolutely seeing more radiant, more healthy skin. My fine lines are reduced, there are no dry skin patches, my skin feels plump and healthy. Healthy being the operative word. I am convinced I look better today than I did five years ago - and that's saying something with two small children in the house! 

DISCOVERY SETS & SPECIAL BUNDLES

Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods, Sephora, Cult Beauty, MankindOmorovicza.com and many others all carry the line. Look for value sets and bundled products as they typically offer huge savings on full-size products. There are also smaller introductory sets smartly priced which allow you to discover which products are your must haves. Ladies in the Plano area should definitely swing by Willow Bend's Neiman Marcus and ask for the lovely Maria at the Omorovicza counter. I credit her with introducing me to the line and a new way of thinking about skin care. She'll steer you towards the right products for your unique needs and perhaps have a small sachet sample on hand to let you experience Omorovicza at home. You just might just find your Holy Grail in a bottle as I have done. 

Feel free to ask questions, ladies! I always love dishing on the topic of beauty and skin care, so don't be shy with questions or inquiries about how I use them. xoxo 

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Dreaming Of: Italy's Monte Argentario peninsula

Italian hotels don't get much better than this one. Nestled on Italy's picturesque Monte Argentario peninsula, Il Pellicano is the stuff of legend. The terracotta-hued beauty is perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Tuscany’s famed Chianti wine region (surprise, it's not just rolling hillsides and farmhouses there). This is a legendary hotel that draws a crowd of the world’s rich and famous. The minute you set foot on the hotel’s grounds, you will understand why. While the rooms are exquisite, it's the pool that offers guests the main attraction. Turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. 

The Pellicano is a home, not a hotel. We have clients who have been coming here since the late ’60s. They feel they are in a family.
— Hotel Il Pellicano’s Creative Director, Marie-Louise Sciò

This magnificent boutique hotel has all the makings of a dream destination. A long line of famous (and infamous) guests, epic views, signature martinis and incredible exclusivity make this a hotel worth the journey. Offering only 50 suites, you'll enjoy views of the crystalline sea in relative privacy during your stay. Although it may behoove you to wear dark sunglasses so as to peek at the low-key celebs and who's who's tanning themselves and sipping on those signature cocktails.  

What famous faces, you may wonder, have enjoyed the same view? Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Radziwill, Sophia Loren and Emilio Pucci are a few of the more prominent names from the past, but this hotspot is still a much-loved haunt of Hollywood's hottest. On any given week you're likely to run into princes, princesses (real ones) and jet setters of all varieties. But... what do you (yes, you) wear while lounging poolside amidst the rich and famous? I've rounded up some selections for you and your honey to enjoy while living la dolce vita in this historic location. 

 

POOLSIDE DRESSING FOR YOU

Tom Ford Miranda Sunglasses // Mara Hoffman Swimsuit // Omorovicza Gold Shimmer Body Oil

No tugging necessary with this peek-a-boo Mara Hoffman swimsuit. It affords the skin-baring exposure of a bikini with the comfort of a one-piece. Heaven. Legs not quite ready for prime time? Rub up in Omorovicza's shimmer oil and prepare to be amazed at your newly Giselle-like limbs. And sunglasses, dear sweet sunglasses. Tom Ford's options won't leave that imprint on your nose, so they win high points for that. Add a tunic or kaftan and flip flops... you're all set for lounging seaside under an umbrella in the company of movers & shakers. 

POOLSIDE  FOR HIM

Cutler & Gross Mirrored Aviators // Hartford Board Shorts // J. Crew Panama Hat // Acqua di Parma Deodorant Stick

Guys like to keep it simple. Classic board shorts, a cool fedora and reflective aviators are pretty much all he needs. Be sure to pack his flip flops and sunscreen, but aside from that he's going to require very little to be happy in your very plush poolside situation. 

Ready to head make your way to this fabulous and famous destination? Read more about it on TripAdvisor, Booking.com has tons of additional pix or get fiscally savvy and see what Priceline can do to net you a sweet (and perhaps suite) deal. 

STUNNING PRE-FLIGHT READS

Love to read? Find out why this small Italian hotel has captivated so many for so long by reading Robert Violette's book featuring photography by Slim Aarons.  

PRETTY PIECES FEATURED IN THIS POST


Beauty: Three New (and Natural) Products I'm Loving Right Now...

Confession: I'm obsessed with discovering the "miracle" product to make all-things-beauty easier and better for myself. In a parallel goal, I'm also on a quest to rid my life (and body) of artificial substances and potentially harmful ingredients. These dual goals require considerable trial and error to discover "clean" products that deliver on their healthy promise and are superstars in their own right. I'm not in search of so-so replacements. I'm on a quest for the best in class of every category. The results (the winners) are shared here with you and the flops never see the light of day. 

This week I'm introducing you to three products that have recently won me over. All of these are silicone-free, paraben-free and derived from natural ingredients. I'm eager to share them with you and share how they won me over. 

First, the Omorovicza Refining Facial Polisher. This is a must-have product for my particular skin. No makeup or moisturizer can fix dull, blah skin. It is ALL about gently buffing away those dead skin cells and revealing fresh, soft skin. Your serums will better penetrate your epidermis, your moisturizer will "take" and your makeup will go on smooth as buttah. What makes this one so special to me is its versatility. 

I often use it for my second step of my face wash (the first being a balm to remove makeup). It is marvelous here at removing muck without stripping the skin of natural oils. And, used correctly, you'll enjoy a gently buffing of the skin too. 

Other times I apply it post-shower as a leave-on mask. All that mineral-rich Hungarian mud has time to do its magic. It does not dry up, instead it stays wet and seems to hydrate the skin. It typically do a few things to busy myself for a while and then rinse it off (or leverage the fine buffing capabilities) to reveal glowing, smooth, nourished skin. LOVE this and I feel it will last me a while since it requires so little to cover the face. Bonus: it goes on a lovely aqua color! 

Now... the crucial one. It's not glamorous to discuss, but we all need deodorant. I recently ventured into the all-natural zone when I read a Vogue editor's praise of Agent Nateur (holi)stick deodorant. Loaded with non-gmo, pesticide-free, food-grade ingredients I was intrigued. Would this lovely little stick hold up to my grueling workouts? I needed to know. I'm two weeks into my test and I'm a convert.

Amazingly, it works. It smells lovely going on and it prevents any post workout embarrassment. It passed my 75-minute hot yoga test with aplomb. The ingredient list is short, all natural and completely non-toxic. Curious? Here's the composition: "Organic coconut oil, sodium bicarbonate, beeswax, sunflower butter, avocado butter, castor oil, raw organic honey, lavender essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, eucalyptus oil, love." Love. Sweet, right? 

Things to know: it is not touted as antiperspirant. While I didn't notice any lack of performance in that area, I didn't put it to the "silk dress at a summer wedding" test. Yet during my two weeks of daily use I stayed completely dry. On that note: the ingredient list, while short, does include essential lavender & eucalyptus oils along with a host of skin soothing ingredients. Here's why this matters: Typically in my post-workout shower I fully exfoliate my body before dressing for the day. Mistake. I do not suggest doing anything to irritate sensitive underarm skin before applying this product. The delicate tissue was sensitive to application post-shower anytime I exfoliated that area. So spare the loofah or scrubbing products in this region prior to use. 

All in all I loved it and am completely impressed. I'll be tossing my old-school aluminum-filled products in the trash pronto.

Next, my heavenly gold tube of hair care magic. Seriously, this product has my name all over it. Shu Uemura The Art of Hair Nourishing Cleansing Milk. Hello! My color-treated hair was crying for this and drank it in like...milk! Used in lieu of my normal Aveda shampoo, it left my long locks silky and happy. Styling was a breeze and it definitely added shine. I should note it is silicone-free, sulfate-free and paraben-free. I don't like many bottles in the shower, but this glistening golden tube earned a spot alongside my trusty Aveda products. It earned it by producing silky tresses without buildup or weight. Very nice, and it will be used in rotation with my beloved Shampure. I'm happy to welcome it to the small hair care family. 

Ciao for now, all! 

Musings: On The Importance of Thinking Big & Dreaming Bold Dreams...

{background image  via Anthropologie , list my own}

{background image via Anthropologie, list my own}

Do you take time to dream? I mean really, truly dream big. To think beyond your current situation and imagine a better reality. To dream in this way it the precursor to all achievement. You need to allow your imagination to run free. You need to give it permission to fearlessly come up with amazing things to achieve, terrific places to see, incredible experiences to enjoy, crazy moments to experience. This is dreaming big and the beginnings of living out bold dreams.  

Is this happening for you? If not, ask yourself ... How healthy is your appetite for life itself? Are you thirsting for more? Aching for a bigger bite of opportunity? The enemy of success isn't failure - it's apathy. Failure is awesome, as it means you DID something and put your heart into it. Failure means you can fall down and get back up. Failure is progress. Apathy? A silent killer. Killer of dreams. Killer of relationships. Killer of ideas and potential. 

RELAX. WE CAN FIX THIS...

By now you might be squirming in your seat. If this is you and you feel the dead stare of apathy looking back at you in the mirror, it's time to wake up & shake up. Let's do a little dreaming. Let's do a little dancing. Let's do a little growing.

YOU'RE NEVER TOO YOUNG FOR A BUCKET LIST

Do you even have a bucket list? A real one. A list of extraordinary achievements or experiences you really need to do? Have you planned out your life with any intention? Do you have things you MUST cross off a list before you toss off this spinning rock we call Earth? I'm going to ask you to do this. Not for me... but for yourself. Are you ready? I mean really ready? This will change your life, friends. This one activity if you'll do it will alter your life.  I'll answer for you. YES. You're ready and willing. 

HOW? HERE'S HOW

I highly suggest you read this post, as it sums up this task in a potent way. This will encourage you to block off some time and MAKE A LIST of MUSTS for your life. It's time to stop drifting and start driving. Tomorrow, sweet friends. But if you can map out a list of items you are genuinely thrilled about doing, experiencing, feeling and achieving then each day will be a gift. Each day will get you one step (or one trans-Atlantic flight) closer to living the life you dream to live. Do this for yourself. 

Although it suggests a digital app for notes, studies have proven that writing things down on physical paper has far more power to deliver results. Part of the exercise will involve shuffling those listed goals around, so for this one exercise it makes sense to begin digitally. But after this, commit to writing the edited lists in a fresh new notebook. Try this. I challenge you to carve out an hour or two of time this weekend (more if you have it) and perform this simple exercise. It will motivate you. Propel you. Focus  you. It will also likely surprise you. 

Butterfly Journal & Spiral "Notes" Notebook (Anthro has lovely ones as well!) // Parker "Jotter" ballpoint Pen (I require blue ink myself) // Fabulously Fagranced Candle (take this experience to the next level with a mood-elevating luxury candle to inspire you!)

One thing I know for sure: if YOU don't design your life, circumstances will. Others will. Your days will be driven by meaningless (read: not goal-oriented) tasks. Your years will blur together. You might end up with a pleasant life, but without identifying (and making plans to accomplish) those unique things that ONLY YOU hope to do in your lifetime - they simply won't come to pass. Your partner's goals are not your goals. Your children's passions are not your passions. Your family's accomplishments are not your accomplishments. It's important to honor your unique yearnings. 

What are some of mine? A small smattering, in no particular order:

  • See the Great Pyramids of Giza up close. Touch them. 
  • Experience an open-vehicle drive through the Sahara
  • Rent a flat in Paris and "live there" for a period of time
  • View the Amalfi coast by luxury boat, stopping periodically in those idyllic towns
  • Stay at Le Sireneuse in Positano
  • Experience the Hungarian flagship spa of Omorovicza 
  • Train with professional chefs to master knife skills and other specialty food preparations
  • Shop at (not browse, s-h-o-p) at the flagship Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon
  • Enjoy ridiculously fresh sashimi in Japan
  • Dine on a rooftop at night in Shanghai
  • Live overlooking the Pacific in a gorgeous house

There are many, many more. I hope you'll do this exercise. I hope you'll feel inspired. I hope you'll click this link to see the process to which I'm referring. Your life will change!

Beauty: The Life-Changing Mineral Sunscreens You've Been Seeking...

You situation may be different, but there's just not a chance I'll be able to completely dodge getting sun this summer. It's Texas. It's sunny. It's hot. And try as we might to do most of our outdoor activities in the shade or early mornings/late afternoons, it is inevitable that Mr. Sun will find a way to shine his light my way. And that's a good thing, since catching those rays buoys your mood and boosts your health. But there is a dark side to too much sun exposure: premature aging and the very real risk of skin cancer. 

Truth is, sunscreen is needed year-round no matter where you live. Even car and office windows can't keep you shielded from the harmful effects of those strong UVA/UVB rays. And please don't tell me I need sun to produce vitamin D. I assure you, I'm getting plenty through my exposed lower body. But can you blame a girl for wanting to keep her face, décolletage and arms free from speckles, spots and damage? My doctor (this gorgeous one) would agree, prevention is the best cure and no on is immune to potential damage.

But what if the sunscreen itself is more harmful than the dreaded ailments you're trying to prevent? Ahhhh. Therein lies the problem. Chemical sunscreens are loaded with questionable substances. Look for a lengthy list of complex names typically ending in -one, -ate or -ene. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor and octinoxate (aka octyl methoxycinnamate) has periodically been labeled a cancer causing ingredient. Retinyl palmitate - another common ingredient "may increase photocarcinogenicity, the rate of developing cancerous lesions or tumors from sun exposure, according to a 2009 study (1)" , You might have never given this a second thought before, but spraying or rubbing this into your skin gives these active ingredients the opportunity to get into your system and cause a range of problems. 

Why are chemical sunscreens more popular? It's simple: they are invisible, readily available and never leave that ghastly white cast on skin.

What exactly is a mineral sunscreen and what's the difference? I can't wait to share...

The all-star ingredients here are Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and Zinc oxide (ZnO). Whereas chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the suns rays or scattering them, they take 20 minutes to begin performing. So no spraying it on and jumping in the pool feeling protected. 

Mineral sunscreens, by contrast, are a physical barrier that sits on top of the skin and prevent the rays from actually penetrating the skin. They begin working immediately upon application. Good news - the best of the bunch are also loaded with antioxidants which have been proven to work synergistically to protect your from damage caused by exposure to the sun. 

I have done exhaustive research and come up with my top recommended high spf (30+ sunscreen fluids & creams for face & body. Used properly, none of these will leave you with a kabuki-faced appearance (although you may have to work them into the skin a bit) and all are paraben free. I'll be frank - this is a SHORT list because I've eliminated even some old favorites once I dug into the ingredients list. Let's go: 

MY FAVORITE MINERAL FACIAL SUNSCREENS 

For my face & upper body I need a water-light formulas with SPF 45+ that melts into the skin. These top my list with Josie Maran & Omorovicza being tied in first place for being by far the most natural and skin nourishing of those I discovered. 

Omorovicza UV Shield // Josie Maran Argan Oil SPF // Colorscience Powder Sunscreen

FAVORITE MINERAL SUNSCREENS FOR THE BODY

For body, this Avene lotion is my personal choice but the three creams listed below are hydrating, top quality and terrific performers. They just require a bit more rubbing in, being thicker formulas than the thinner facial liquids. For kids, Hampton Sun is the way to go. No doubt. Yes, they are pricey - but nothing is as sacred as your health and avoiding expensive treatments or reparative efforts later on. 

Avene SPF 50 Mist // Omorovicza UV Shield // Supergoop SPF 40

THE BEST MINERAL SUNSCREEN POWDERS FOR THE FACE

One other secret weapon for saving your gorgeous face? SPF powder for reapplying during the day. Remember, they recommend we reapply sunscreen every two hours for effectiveness and I'm not about to put a fluid on top of my makeup once I'm ready for the day. Hence the need for powders. Yes. It works and is largely free from unnecessary ingredients. I LOVE the Chantecaille, but it is almost always sold out. So I've added two other winners I love. Note: these are NOT grainy formulas. These are finely milled and can be dusted on like an invisible veil. No - you will not have powdery face, but you might just avoid some major sun damage by tossing one in your tote. Pro tip: purchase the Chantecaille Refill while you wait for your handy brush/dispenser combo to arrive. 

Chantecaille Protection Naturelle SPF Powder // Colorscience "Sunforgettable" SPF Powder // PTR Instant Sunshield Powder

I'll be candid here: my dad is a skin cancer survivor. My maternal grandfather regularly has to go and have melanomas removed. Having grown up in the Carolinas I can tell you I wasn't so sun safe. To say that prevention of future damage is a priority for me is an understatement. Couple that with my love of exercising outdoors and generally having fun and you get a girl who is obsessed with finding fantastic products. 

So if I seem passionate about the topic of "safe sun" and a bit obsessed with maintaining my youthful glow, I'll agree with you. I am. Better late than never, right? I'm not advocating hiding indoors - I'm encouraging to find high quality products that allow you to live your dreams in the safest and healthiest way possible. 

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Beauty: At-Home Spa Treatments Packing Major Punch...

That Saturday you wake up and realize you are in dire need of a full complement of beauty treatments. That was me this past weekend. Beyond just a mani/pedi session, this girl needed a facial, a massage and head to toe buff session. It must be the slightly warmer temps here, but I'm suddenly fully aware that spring will someday come again and my face, skin and body need some attention. Any salon & spa regular knows that you can't book the best appointments at 10am on Saturday. No, ma'am. Those coveted slots with the pros just aren't happening at the last minute. So what did a girl in need of a little glow (and some tress mending) do? Allow me to share...

Thanks to the wonders of the internet I've been discovering a few miraculous hair taming & face changing products. Not only are they at-home treatments (bonus!), they are (mostly) easy to obtain and can be delivered to your door (my obvious guilty pleasure). I admit to loving online shopping for a good reason: reviews! I obsess over user generated feedback and tend to weed out the duds from the diamonds with enough research. Still, there are gems to be discovered on your own and products that work differently for everyone. Experimentation is necessary to find your personal favorites. 

This past weekend I was committed to repairing my hair and reclaiming the glow my skin deserves. A top to bottom exfoliation were on the agenda as was a very special hair treatment. Below are the cast of characters that found their way into my repertoire. Mostly present were longtime favorites but a there are a few new stars of the show. Here's how it went down:

FIRST: HIT THE SHOWER!

Aveda Shampure // Molton Brown Pepperpod Body Polisher // Joico Revitalizing Treatment

Begin by grabbing a great clarifying shampoo to remove product buildup. Often what feels dry is simply the result of lingering hair spray, calcium or conditioner on your strands. The key here is to prep the hair for my new tress BFF and secret weapon. What is it and how did I discover it? I was desperate to change my hair texture (or should I say return it to its former smooth glory). I searched far and wide for a keratin treatment I felt comfortable using. Joico came highly recommended. Their newest product is called Revitaluxe. It promised (if those glowing reviews were to be believed) to transform my brittle locks back into the Botticelli-worthy tresses I once adored. (I have blonde Kardashian dreams, you know!) So... clarifying shampoo first. Joico treatment next. Leave on the recommended 3-5 minutes and move on to... your bod. 

Start by applying Kate Somerville's Exfolikate to your face. A thin layer will invigorate your skin and remove impurities. Careful not to rub too much. This is an enzyme peel, meaning it works with natural plant extracts and other organic elements. It requires no scrubbing on your part, which is good for sensitive skin. Don't leave it on too long, but give it a few beats to get in and clean those pores. 

Next... I love (LOOOOVE) a great smelling scrub. In fact I would say I'm somewhat of a connoisseur of exfoliating products. This one from Molton Brown is smells intoxicatingly good in ways all Molton products do. But it's what it does for the skin that I appreciate. Your thighs will be glowing and gorgeous, and you'll feel as though you had a full service spa treatment with a single application. I assure you.  I can't say enough great things about it. Pricey? A bit. So use it sparingly, but do enjoy it when you need a boost. Extra points if you wear those scrubby exfoliating gloves they sell at drugstores. 

Finally... rinse out the Joico treatment (it only takes 3-5 minutes to work its magic). And finish with a cold rinse to close the cuticles & pores as well as invigorate your senses. And... you're done. 

POST SHOWER GOODNESS

Flowerbomb body lotion. // Patchology Energizing Eye Patches // Tress-Friendly turban

Once out of the shower, wrap hair in a tress-friendly turban. At this point I like to smooth on one of my favorite indulgences: Flowerbomb body lotion. Lord have mercy, this smells fabulous. I don't wear the perfume, but this lotion is amazing. Perfect for feeling fabulous while working on the rest of your beauty treatments. Next, don those silly looking paraffin socks from Bliss you have hiding under your sink. Yes, the blue ones. They work miracles. You might look like a Smurf, but by the end of the evening your feel will feel like buttah. 

Now... my new secret beauty weapon for the face? You can thank a late night google search for this: Patchology Energizing Eye Patches. These were not on my radar last year. These strange little patches offer intense eye area treatments that actually do transform your visage. It's the perfect amount of time post-shower time to dry your hair and get in your jammies. After about 15 minutes take them off and leave the remaining product on your eyes do hydrate the delicate eye area. Trust me, you'll love this small but powerful addition to your beauty arsenal. Dark circles & fine lines are a thing of the past.  

NOW... ON TO BED TIME 

Omorovicza Instant Plumping Mask // Queen of Hungary Mist // Instant Plumping Set

Last but not least, my coveted "Cinderella Cream" from Omorovicza. Officially it's known as the Instant Plumping Mask, and it is a fan favorite for good reason. While a bit, it lasts me well over 6 months when used properly. It can be worn as a mask or as an overnight cream. I love leaving on overnight as a treatment. (Editor's note: I like to use it 2x a week.)

How to use: Warm a tiny amount by quickly rubbing between palms to liquify the product. Smooth over face and décolletage gently. Now... spritz on a facial elixir. Omorovicza makes a very special one. I also love Caudalie's Beauty Elixir. Either one you prefer will do the job perfectly. Hold bottle about a foot from your face and mist entire area. Wait half a beat for it to soak in. Now... mist your face & neck area again. Now... do nothing. Nothing. You're done! Don't skip the mist. In order for the plumping cream to work you need to add hydration for it to absorb. 

Once you're ready to sleep, I strongly suggest using a silk eye mask (you know I adore these every night) and these amazing copper-infused pillowcases (not kidding). Both will keep wrinkles at bay and induce a deep wonderful sleep. Trust me, a solid night of sleep will do wonders for your looks and your state of mind. For bonus points, leave those blue Bliss socks on overnight. Wake up more gorgeous, refreshed and fabulous. 

That's it in a nutshell, girls! This is the perfect "night-in" beauty routine you can do once a week to keep your face, body & hair looking marvelous. Frankly, in February we could all use a little boost! Hope you'll try these favorite products out & share your results. 

But wait! Let me share the skinny on my hair treatment: the Joico Revitaluxe. WOW. Best $22 investment I've made in a long time. It does not disappoint. Hair that I assumed would need to be cut off to be repaired is now soft and silky. It is a night and day difference. Those hundreds of online testimonials were correct. I can't wait to see how good my hair looks after a repeated use.  If you color or heat style your hair, take a look at this marvelous gold & black tube!

Happy beautifying, ladies! I hope you find a few new favorites from this list. 

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Beauty: My Personal Lashes, Liner & Skin Routine...

{image via  Bridal Makeovers }

{image via Bridal Makeovers}

Hi, friends! A few of you have emailed about my go-to beauty products. On this topic I certainly have opinions and experience. I'm reposting this comprehensive post from April for convenience. Apologies if you've read before, but this is loaded with so many great products it seemed worthy of sharing again for those who haven't seen it. xoxo Franki}
 
Allure comes down to a series of L words... lashes, liner, lips, locks & luminous skin. While it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of product available, a girl has to learn which product she can count on. Thankfully a willingness to experiment and a desire to try, try again has resulted in many repeat buys in my beauty cabinet. There are a number of products I consider "essentials" in my primping routine. Make no mistake, good products do matter and price often comes into play. Like all of us, I pay frequent homage to Neimans or Nordstrom for the beauty counters. Yet it might surprise you to learn that a few of my favorites are of the drugstore variety. Yes, yes... it's true! I thought I'd share a few of my high-low favorites. Perhaps you'll fall in love with them as well. Questions? Just ask! 

PREPPING THE CANVAS

These are my go-to items for adding moisture and evening out skin tone. Most of the products I use lend themselves to leaving my skin hydrated and smooth while protecting it from the elements. Kate Somerville Quench is my serum of choice. I smooth it on my face right after I shower to retain moisture & give my skin that oh-so-desirable glow. 

Next, I use a blend of Prevage Body (yes... body!) and Clarins UV Plus on my face and décolletage. In winter months I sometimes use Bliss Youth as We Know It, but for most of the year it's Prevage all the way. About that UV Plus: Never ever skip your UV coverage! This tiny little bottle is my favorite way to protect my skin from the ravages of the sun. A little bit goes a long way and it never burns or makes my eyes water. I've tried what feels like EVERY brand on the market and this is the only one I buy again and again.

Next comes the coverage. I don't wear foundation, but I swear by Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. It evens out skin tone and the shade "Nude" is essentially my skin, only better. Periodically, I've tried other products (Dior & Chanel each have super-lightweight foundations I've dabbled in) but I can't imagine using anything other than this wonder product. I've used this for about 6 or 7 years and it is essential to my "get ready & get glowing" routine. While everyone seems crazy about powder, I'm a "dewy" finish girl and this doesn't give me the dry look of foundation. Plus, it is weightless. No caked mess here. 

This seems like a lot, but remember you are using whisper thin layers of the products. And never fret, the word "moisturizer" in the Laura Mercier is a bit of a misnomer. For me, it lends very little hydration and solely offers a hint of skin tone smoothing color. 

If I'm feeling particularly dry, I'll dot on Origins Plantscription Eye at the outside corners of my eye area. However, I'm beginning to think this should be done without fail daily. Prevention is the best cure!

{Savvy tip: Nordstrom exclusively carries a larger size of both the Clarins UV Plus and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. For this reason I am very loyal to my local beauty counter. These larger items are not always visible online, but are so worth a few extra dollars for almost double the product. However... Sephora now offers a double pack of the Clarins UV which is an even juicier deal at $60. }

venticup

PRETTY AS A PICTURE

BEHIND THE SCENES BEAUTY

Of course there are other characters in the cast that work behind the scenes to keep my skin glowing. If you're not on board yet with Clairsonic, you should be. Cleaning that debris from your pores and keeping the skin safely exfoliated is the first step in any good beauty routine. I am always looking for safe, gentle ways to exfoliate without over-stressing the skin.

My trusty pink Clairsonic does the job beautifully! Weekly, however, I love to step it up with a Kate Somerville combo: Exfolikate (an enzyme based product) and Kate Clinic-to-Go pads. This two step process leaves my skin smooth as "buttah" and ready for any topical products to sink in and do their job.

What, you ask, do I apply? The ladies at Neiman Marcus call it "Cinderella Cream" and I have to agree. Omorovicza's Plumping Cream is very pricey, but worth investing in and using judiciously. I am able to extend the use of my jar to about 8-12 months depending upon how sparingly I apply it. It is a weekly treatment (or so they say), but I've had months where I lived in it! 

Whether you're battling bumps or crinkles, ROC retinol is gentle enough and one of the most effective (and least expensive) cure there is available. I really ought to use it more religiously, but I tend to forget this wonder product. I'm sure there will come a day when I'm more committed to my anti-aging routine. When I am... these little tubes will be stockpiled! 

spa

MY AT-HOME SPA SECRET WEAPONS

So there you have it... these are the bulk of my secret beauty weapons. I love, love, love to talk about beauty products and techniques... so if you have questions about any of these products or my methods, please ask. I mean it when I tell you I've tried brands - both high and low. In the end I've arrived at what works for me today. What about you? What do you use? Do any of these appear in your makeup drawer? I'd love to hear it!