Beauty: My Effortless Summer #MakeupEdit...

Summer is the season when less really truly is more. White sundresses, featherlight sunglasses and gold slip-on flats make for a killer look and makeup needn't be much more complicated. Here in Dallas the sun is punishingly bright and the heat is intense, so survival in the game of beauty (and sun protection) is a skill worth mastering.

I've simplified my summer makeup routine to a few fantastic products that work well for my skin and my desired look. The star of them being the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette. As the name implies it is a workhorse that does a million wonderful things. This pretty gold compact has since replaced my normal blush, bronzer, luminizer and eye shadows. I love, love, LOVE it so much I'll be buying a few before they sell out. No, this post isn't sponsored in any way, I just adore this incredible little palette and have found it to be a miracle worker giving me an enviable and effortless glow. Here's the simplified (yet sun-safe) summer routine in full...


After moristuring, apply Bare Minerals SPF 50 Primer Fluid. This is new for me and I love that it preps skin for the next step while adding an invisible layer of mineral SPF 50. Next  apply Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder (Tint 3) where necessary, working from the center of the face outward. On days I need it, I tap a few dots of Charlotte Tilbury Treat & Conceal (in shade 2) under the eyes and dab, dab, dab to fend off shadows. 

Now to the color: With a thin fan brush I use a hint of the bronzer from the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette beneath cheekbones in the natural groove where shadows would appear. It is matte and goes on extremely sheer. No nightmare streaks are possible. Then mixing the bronzer & blush (also shimmer-free) with a stipple brush I hit just above the temples and just beneath apples of cheeks up to the ear. With my blush brush I use the blush color alone to give the apples that pretty pink pop. The highlighter is unique, it's a gel-powder with sophisticated shimmer that I use in the inner corners of eyes to brighten, and carry it over the lid for a luminous sheen, I also add to the "C" shaped area around the eyes near temples with a highlighter brush. A touch on the cupids bow, brow bones and cheekbones give that happy glow we crave. Mind you, these are steps that take seconds and are applied lightly in barely-there layers. There's no precision or painstaking accuracy needed. Just this palette and my makeup brushes. That's it! It's a foolproof palette that offers just the right amount of color payoff on my light olive skin and I find the colors to be extremely flattering. 

Next comes a thin flick of Givenchy Couture Waterproof Eyeliner to outer lids for lash fluttering beauty. Finish with my all-time favorite Voluminous mascara from Loreal,  Next I take a bottle of Soleil Toujours Set & Protect Mist with me as well as one of a few straw hats and my must-have Fresh "Rose" Lip Treatment which leaves a barely there hint of (you guessed it) rose tint on the lips. Summer beauty, perfected. 

The only parts of this routine that requires focus or precision are the liner (optional) and the mascara. Candid note: I always dread applying mascara but am always the most impressed with the results. It is tedious and requires accuracy, but nothing else in this routine requires a steady hand or Kardashian dedication. The goodies I use are all listed below. Obviously I have high praise for the Estee Lauder Summer Glow Multi-Palette, as it's my go-to find this summer. It is also available herehere and here. More details below. Thank you for reading! 

Gift Guide: Ten Gift for the Beauty Obsessed...

Let's face it, we are living in a world obsessed with lip kits, flawless skin and enviably sleek locks. For that person on your list (which may very well be you!) always on the hunt for the dream cream and perfecting her no-makeup makeup look, I've found a few treasures sure to give her that lit-from-within glow.

1. Moon Juice Beauty Dust stimulates collagen production from within to create plump, bouncy effortlessly (also here & here) // 2. Oribe Gold Envy Luminous Face Mask boasts peptides, flower extracts & real gold for a radiant complexion // 3. Givenchy Le Prisme Suerstellar eyeshadow palette is as instagram-worthy as it gets and offers three classic shimmery shades // 4.  Lumee Illuminated Smartphone Case is the not-so-secret secret to perfect selfies & snapchats // 5. Wander Beauty's On-the-Go Lip & Cheek Color + Illuminator is the ideal toss & go beauty companion // 6. Slip Silk Eye Mask gives beauty sleep a whole new meaning. I suggest one for travel & one for home. (black is also a smart option) // 7. Christian Louboutin Satin Lip Color in Delicanodo is kissable pink at its best and the ultra-luxe gold packaging is squeal inducing (also here & here) // 8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Feminin Pluriel Parfum is a heady mix of iris, rose, violet & Egyptian jasmine guaranteed to make any woman stand out & feel gorgeous (also here) // 9. Cire Trudon Giambattista Valli Positano candle is an aromatic escape to the Amalfi coast & can eventually be a chic way to store makeup brushes // 10. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Treat & Transform Cream is available in a limited edition gold 5 ounce pot of the genius cream (also here & here)

Beauty: Give Your Skin that Coveted Supermodel Glow...

{image via  Pinterest }

{image via Pinterest}

When it comes to how I feel about makeup, it begins with great skin, focus on eyes & eyebrows and a somewhat glossy nude-pink lip. While great genetics will take you far, few of us are rocking supermodel genes (or jeans, for that matter). But with a little know how, some experimentation and honed skills, you too can have a face that radiates that ethereal glow we've all come to associate with modern beauty. 

First: water. Sorry girls. There's no getting around this foundational aspect of great skin. DRINK UP. If you don't have a water filter, get one to eliminate some of the toxins and microbial particles in your tap water. Better yet, add some lemon. Trust: it does a body (and a face) good. 

But let's talk products. There are definitely some tips and tricks I can share from my ample experimentation and my quest to find the very best. Let's begin with a fresh face, shall we? Bliss  Youth as We Know It Anti-Aging Cleanser was my go-to for years and CeraVe is an excellent (and super inexpensive) option. These days, however, it's hard to resist the siren call of Kate Somerville's Cleansing Milk. "WOW" is my response to this amazing cleanser. It is packed with active ingredients and leaves my skin soft & prepped for a day of looking gorgeous. That pump dispenser keeps things bacteria free, too. I was told by my Kate Somerville guru that it was developed for more mature ladies, but I don't care. My skin loves this stuff and it smells dreamy. It's worth every sulfate-free penny. 

Next, grab a serum. Ole Henricksen Truth Serum wins those magazine beauty awards every year for good reason. It isn't sticky, doesn't leave you "wet" and somehow magically makes you better looking. Loaded with Vitamin C, used daily it will indeed generate a glowing complexion and a more firm face. I especially love the "super sized" option as it's a great value. 

Finally, hydrate. I'm a huge Prevage by Elizabeth Arden fan. I actually use the body moisturizer on my face and décolletage (it just works for me) and love, love, love the way it sinks right into my skin and leaves that beautifully hydrated finish. I actually mix it with my Clarins UV Plus before applying to face, neck and shoulder area. Prevention truly is the best cure, after all. 

Wait half a beat for the moisturizer to sink in most of the way (but not quite completely dried) then apply Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. My go-to color is Nude, which is pretty spot on for my skin tone. They offer a wide range of shades for girls of every color of the rainbow. (Tip: Stick to the original, as I do not care for the illuminating or oil-free versions.) Apply a thin layer beginning in the center of your face and work outwards. Dot extra on any troublesome areas (like around the nose or apples of cheeks) and stand back to appreciate your dewy glow. Done right, this will result in that perfect "no makeup" look you crave but don't have the nerve to actually try. I prefer a light-to-medium coverage and appreciate that this product is NEVER caked or thick. My skin can breathe and it looks and feels healthy.

My super secret weapon? Step a little closer to the screen... wait for it... wait for it...  Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Loose Powder. This is one beauty product that changed my look from so-so to boom-boom-pow. Used sparingly with one of these brushes in areas of the face you would normally apply bronzer to it will produce an "I just jetted back from Ibiza" glow that doesn't look overdone. In summer I use more to achieve that golden glow, but this is one product I'm happy to incorporate all year long. Brush just below cheekbones, up to temples and lightly dust on forehead, nose and chin. It comes in two shades: starlight and candlelight. I prefer the latter, as it is warmer and less yellow. My makeup artist friend and Nordstrom also emphasizes that it is the more universally flattering of the two. Next, use NARS Orgasm (aka the only blush you'll ever need) on apples of your cheeks and call it a day. Voilà! You, are Gisele Bundchen. 

If I can offer one final tip it would be to use a gentle exfoliator. I love to use Clarins Gentle Exfoliating One Step Cleanser at night for keeping skin fresh and smooth. This amazing product offers the perfect doze of skin buffing goodness to keep your skin ready to be radiant again tomorrow. Can't imagine living without this great find! 

1. Kate Somerville Cleansing Milk // 2. Ole Henricksen Truth Serum // 3. Prevage by Elizabeth Arden // 4. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer // 5. Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Loose Powder

This step by step guide is only for skin. I'll touch upon eyes in a subsequent post but this will get you started. The result of the products and application methods above will not only give your skin a temporary glow, it will actually protect and repair your beautiful face. The cleansing milk is packed with active skin-perfecting active ingredients, the moisturizer is loaded with antioxidants, the SPF is one of the best on the market, the serum will stimulate collagen production and the tinted moisturizer contains a bit of sun protection as well. These are top notch products at reasonable prices. My goal is to go beyond a temporary healthy glow resulting from clever makeup tricks. I'm striving to actually look radiant with my makeup off and treat my skin with the care it deserves. I suspect you are too.

Word to the wise: It's the only face you'll ever have, so treat yours lovingly and with respect.  And by all means keep drinking that filtered water, girls! It might just be the fountain of youth you've been looking for all these years. 


Beauty: Getting Fresh-Faced & Fabulous...

I'm one of those late night readers that saves every article on flawless French girl skin and dermatologist recommended products. I research brands and ingredients as though my life depended upon it. You can bet that before my fingers hit "place order" on a new product I have done ample investigation, read dozens of reviews and likely requested a sample at the nearest beauty counter. While I'm fiercely loyal to a few products, your skin care needs do evolve and new technologies do emerge.

Lately my complexion has been displaying that end-of-season "blah" look and could use a little zhuzh to revive its vitality. Nothing crazy, just a little AHA action to gently slough off those dull summer cells without harsh scrubbing and a high quality multi-tasking moisturizer to bring vibrancy back to lackluster skin. Add in a hydrating booster and a few other tried and true tricks and this so-so skin should be back on track and ready to more radiantly exude that no-makeup necessary Lily Aldridge glow.

Here's what I'm absolutely loving right now to give my skin a much needed seasonal boost...

1. CHANEL Le Weekend // 2. Vinoperfect Radiance Serum // 4. PTR Retinol Fusion PM Serum // 5. Omorovicza Rejuvenating Night Cream

Beauty: Stellar Products I Never Want to Be Without Again...

Finding "the one" is a life changing moment. That initial rush of euphoria evolves over months into true, deep love. Rather than looking elsewhere for options, you dig deep and commit to a long term relationship filled with trust and admiration. That's how I feel about these absolutely fantastic items in my beauty arsenal. Some are longtime loves, others have replaced previous favorites and earned top rank all on their own for their next-level excellence (I'm looking at you, Tom Ford products). From a pretty jar of moisturizer that makes my heart flip and my skin glow (hello, dewy & plump visage) to a lip liner that makes my lips every bit as juicy as Kylie's these are the products making my skin glow.

I'll start with my moisturizer first. Wow, do I love this. It plumps, offers major hydr ation and is beyond great for daytime under makeup. My only wish is that Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream arrived in a larger jar. I love it that much.  You've heard me gush about Charlotte Tilbury "Light Wonder" Youth Boosting Skin Perfecting Foundation many times now. I think "foundation" is a bad label for this. It's far more like a tinted moisturizer (think, Laura Mercier's) and is never ever heavy or opaque.  I'm shade 2 in winter and 3 during the summer.

I fell HARD for Estee Lauder's Summer Goddess palette this summer, and if you can find it I suggest you hoard it. Easier to find and AH-mazing is om Ford "Weekender" Bronzer + Blush + Highligher Palette. Pricey, but like all Tom Ford items the quality is truly a luxurious experience unlike any other. Which brings me to my eye shadow obsession. Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in "Nude Dip" is a palette you'll want to own forever. The perfect pigmentation, the opulent shimmer without a hint of disco ball glitter, this is a sexy quad worth the splurge.

Now, let's get lippy! The discovery of Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Liner in "Pillowtalk" will forever keep me smiling. I can cheat just enough to give my lips the boost they need. Its creamy consistency means you can color them in and ensure your lip color stays put without risk of dryness. Pillowtalk is the perfect pink nude that is just... pretty. It's so truly pretty I only like adding a balm over top. I try many, and By Terry Baum de Rose Lip Sheer in Rosy Babe is "my lips but better" and packed with enough emollients to turn even the driest pout into a pair of pretty, plump, healthy lips. On days I'm steering more neutral, Toffee Cream is another excellent nude. 

I finish with a flick of Loreal Voluminous liner and the legendary mascara of the same line (sorry Diorshow!) and I'm done. I hope this mix stays the way it is for a while. It's giving me a major good glow and streamlining my morning routine. These products are all stars on their own as standout winners, yet for me it's how they work in concert with one another that makes this mix so stellar. I hope you find you magical mix as well!


Beauty: Vegetarian, Cruelty-Free Makeup Goes Ultra Luxe...

While I've long been a fan of their legendary body butters (bye bye, dry winter skin), The Body Shop has now stepped up to the makeup plate to delight those of us seeking toxin-free, cruelty-free options. Their collection of color products for eyes and lips just arrived and I had to give it a try. I must to admit... the quality impressed me.


Ladies, you know packaging matters. It's often where well-meaning brands fail. These eye shadow quads (I tried two) are housed in glossy black clam shell cases with interior mirrors. Sleek closures. Nice weight and scale to them. The shadow pans are very generous. The twist-up eye color stick tips are rounded like Laura Mercier's caviar sticks and the packaging is somewhat similar. The matte lip color is in a more modest black matte tube with silver interior sleeve. The packaging isn't going to be an Instagram star a la YSL or Dior's gilded lippies, but the ultra-smooth twist-up mechanism and elegantly shaped product tip definitely impress. 


So let's talk about the color products themselves.  The day my products arrived it was dreary and blah, so naturally I i was attracted to the the hot pink lip color. Hello, mood boost in a tube! As soon as I began to swipe it on I realized I hadn't exfoliated my lips. Much to my surprise it didn't matter. Even with the matte finish, the product is infused with Brazil nut oil and beeswax for a supple, full-lip finish. Very pretty and already tossed in my on-the-go makeup bag.

Next, the shadows. The plum palette is truly spectacular and was really drawn to those shades with my current winter skin tone. It is very difficult to find a matte ivory shadow (a makeup drawer basic, in my opinion) and this palette has a superb version. The three additional shadows are an array of shimmering plums that veer towards super-neutrals. Super sultry shades. The shadows were shimmery without being glittery and the texture was velvety smooth. Pigmentation was exactly as I hoped and I loved that texture was smooth during application. Did I mention the pans are very generously sized? I think these quads will last me quite a while and are easily used day to night. Will be dabbling in the brown quad (which houses warmer clay tones) next.

The eye gold shadow stick? I found it ideal for adding a pop of sparkle to the center of the top lid. Smooth, shimmery but not glittery. On dash & go days this would be a pretty color to use as an all-over lid color with a swipe of mascara & gloss. Very versatile. (Note: I have got to get my hands on the purple & bronze versions. I love the idea of mess-free shadow application that leaves lids looking glam!)


Going in with no expectations, I was impressed by both the texture and feel of the makeup and the packaging. Compared to my normal color lines (Chanel, YSL, Tom Ford) these still read as elegant options. Sophisticated colors. Luxurious packaging (not quite as opulent as my normal quads and lip color packaging, but definitely in luxe territory). Vegetarian ingredients. If you're looking for a cruelty-free option for your makeup arsenal, this well-priced collection should absolutely be high on your list. See the full holiday collection


Beauty: Burberry Brings Enviable Luster to Your Makeup Edit...

Leave it to Burberry to take highlighting to the next level. Their recent collection of metallic shimmer dust products and glitter-infused makeup has arrived in stores and is poised to bring the Midas touch to every glamour girl's beauty routine. While the loose glitters and bold lipsticks might be best reserved for editorial looks and New Year's Eve fêtes, the rest of the collection easily translates to daytime glamour. Subtle, sophisticated and - most of all - there's something for everyone from the most demure to the most outré of us. Did I mention they also have black glitter powder? Hello, sultry smokey eyes!


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'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.  


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. 


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.



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! 


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! 


Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods, Sephora, Cult Beauty, 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 


Beauty: Quenching My Skin's Thirst with Dolce & Gabbana's Aurealux Collection...

Last summer I discovered the incredibly indulgent Aurealux sheet mask from Dolce & Gabbana. Drenched in a magical fluid infused with their exclusive Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (gold silk sericin, Italian olive oil extract and Vitamin B3 are key components listed) that simple introduction opened my eyes to the beauty of hydrated skin. While I wouldn't call my skin dry, my combination complexion is always happier when I pamper it with the right serums and penetrating moisturizers. 

A few months back as I was running low on serums and moisturizers of another brand, I bit the bullet and decided it was time to commit to the entire Aurealux line. From the essence to the eye gel, I stopped using all other products for a few weeks as I dove deep into the Dolce program. The result? Very happy skin and a few irreplaceable products I can't imagine living without. 



Aurealux Cream // Aurealux Essence // Aurealux Sheet Mask // Aurealux Serum // Aurealux Eye Gel


If you've been looking for a luxurious skincare line, this one will not disappoint. From the packaging itself (think: gold foil lined boxes and perfectly designed bottles and jars), the Dolce & Gabbana skincare experience is extremely upscale. But you're smarter than that and want to know all about those products, so let me dive in and share. 


I'm not sure how I survived without an essence, and now that I've been completely spoiled by the skin quenching qualities of the Aurealux Essence I'll never want to skip this step. The best way to describe it is thick water. It glides over clean skin like silk and preps it for whatever you follow it with. This single product brings a smile to my face every day as I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of putting it on my skin. The fluid seems to be the exact same one the wondrous Aurealux Sheet Mask is soaked in, so having access to this daily is a treat to my skin. What does it do? Hydrate, smooth and refine. I am IN LOVE with this magical fluid and will not be without it again. Miracle! 

The essence is followed by the luxurious and creamy Aurealux Serum. I definitely ran out of this too soon, a sign that I loved it. Thicker than the essence, this lightweight product is loaded with plumping Hyaluronic Acid, my favorite skin care additive. Those of you with oily complexions might find the serum to be all you need for daily hydration, but I needed to follow up with the all-star Aurealux Cream. This was the single product I was most excited to try and it did not disappoint! Loaded with their Gold Flavo-silk Tricomplex™ (a constant in the line), this thick gel-cream seems apt to use any season of the year. It left my combo skin dewy in all the right places and never the slightest bit oily. I absolutely loved this for both day and night, but opted to save it for daytime in order to make the product last longer. I loved it, and highly recommend it to those of you with combo skin. Your pores will drink it in and visibly thank you. 

Last but not least, the Aurealux Eye Gel. This one seemed a bit off-putting at first as its gel formula was unusual for me. I decided to use the La Mer emulsifying method to see if the friction and heat of my fingertips could liquify it. Bingo! This transformed the springy gel into a decadent serum-like fluid read to soak into my skin. I liked it so much I experimented with it in a variety of ways. As an eye cream it kept lines and creases at bay. As an overall serum it was hydrating and gave me an enviable glow. I even found success patting it onto the cheekbones & eye area after makeup application as a strobing/setting product. Again, it knew no bounds. I found the gel in this little jar to be a multi-tasker in my arsenal ready for action at a moment's notice. 


For a brand known for fashion and leading-edge cosmetics I was truly surprised by the quality of the products and the visible results they produced. My skin was moisturized, happy and calm using every one of these beautiful products. The Aurealux CreamAurealux Essence & Aurealux Sheet Mask are my clear favorites but the entire collection is strong and fabulous. My advice? Give one of these sampler sets a try to dip your toes into the golden pool and see the healthy skin results for yourself. Your pretty face will be healthier, plumper, softer and happier - and what more could a girl dream of? 

Skin Discovery Set // Skin Luxury Set


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! 

Beauty: Nailing the Perfect Ten with Toxin-Free Nail Polish...

{photo by  Franki Durbin }

{photo by Franki Durbin}

It's become second nature to seek out organic foods, grass-fed beef, hormone-free this and antibiotic free that when it comes to our food. But I'll be candid when I say that I've been willfully turning a blind eye to the nasty bits in my beauty arsenal. Quarternium-what? It's no wonder the font is so small. One close look at those ingredient lists make me queazy. What is this I'm putting on (and therefore in) my body? 

Enter the next phase of my "life edit" which involves removing the next frontier of poisons and unknowns from my life. Hair was easy, as I've shifted back to Aveda completely on all of my products. Even better, the elusive brand is now available at Nordstrom. Hello, free shipping! Healthy hair: check. And I'll tackle my main products for taming my mane in a coming post. 

But what about the ultimate taboo... nail polish? We've all read about the dangers of formaldehyde yet we dutifully paint our claws in dazzling shades of ruby, coral and azalea pink. How can we resist? Well, we can. But for those who do enjoy their mani/pedi with a dose of color (or even just shine) I've finally surrendered to (read: found my solution in) celeb favorite Smith & Cult.

Why this brand? I've tried a few with lackluster results (literally). No durability. No bold colors. No flawless finish. This brand has somehow nailed (see what I did there?) the ability to marry the luxury of pretty nails with our current health-conscious mindset. Not one of their beautifully packaged nail lacquers contains the main five nasty polish ingredients. Not familiar? These are Dibutyl, Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor. Smith & Cult features high-shine, flawless coverage, heavy durability and - last but definitely not least - stunning colors in an exclusive 5-Free formula.

Did I mention they are readily available and reasonably priced? And the packaging is gorgeous. So for me this is high fives (once my nails dry, of course) all around. Can't wait? Shop them all at Net-a-Porter & Neiman Marcus. Each bottle is exactly $18, so for the price of a single spa visit you've got yourself a foolproof three-step mani/pedi. Toxin-free, I might add. Otherwise here's what I recommend as you dip your toes (sorry, can't help myself) in the colorful 5-Free waters. 

The Basis of Everything (base coat) // Psycho Candy (bright coral orange) // Plastic Beach (the ultimate Barbie pink) // Suburban Warrior (fierce bougainvillea pink) // Above It All (top coat)

Wondering how to remove that pretty lacquer? I like RGB's pre-soaked cotton pads which are made without harmful acetone or acetate. They'll whisk away that polish when you're ready to refresh your color. Now, go forth and beautify yourself, lovelies! What am I wearing this week? The delightful Plastic Beach is my current favorite, but don't count out the shocking pink of Suburban Warrior. I feel a summer pedi coming on soon! 

Editor's note: If you have a brand you love more that you suggest, I'm all ears. I'm tackling each section of life one by one and making improvements. Even my deodorant is being replaced by a less sinister one. If you're a wellness lover, health freak and a natural beauty lover please share your expertise. I would very much love to learn about your favorite products. xoxo! 


Beauty: Sulwhasoo, My First Foray Into the World of Korean Skin Care...

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

The widespread popularity of Korean beauty has been a lovely thing to observe. The prized features and key elements are all in line with my own approach to skin care. Dewy, bright, moist, plump skin and an obsession with sun protection. This is what I seek in my own skin care and this is precisely what almost every K-beauty product promises. While there are many, many choices on the market, Amore Pacific's Sulwhasoo has risen to the top of my radar for its ready availability and growing fan base, 

Two weeks ago I dove in head first via their medicinal herb driven brightening sheet masks, ultra-hydrating serum and clarifying mask. Oh, what a treat my skin has received! Smooth, cleansed, radiant skin that happily absorbs my new moisturizer (more on that in an upcoming post) and smiles at me when I look in the mirror. 

Let's chat about these different products one by one. First, let's talk about the Clarifying Mask. Think: honey. The color, texture and consistency remind me of the deepest, darkest honey. I have been using it pre-shower which allows me to take it off easily. Note that this product is meant to be peeled off. Knowing this you'll want to begin peeling right away, before the steam works its normal magic. I like it pre-shower so I can let the steam penetrate my pores after removal of the mask. The results: dull skin, be gone! Much like mud masks, this worked to clarify my skin and clean my pores - all without stripping it of hydration (which most mud masks do). You know how normally a mask leaves your skin tight and dry? Not this one. I am convinced it plumps and moistens. LOVELY product. Don't let the brown sticky texture throw you off. Your skin will appreciate the results. 

Post-shower I do one of two things: use the 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum (a miracle in a bottle) or lie down for a few minutes with a 'Snowise EX' Brightening Mask on. Let's talk about the sheet mask first. Rather than the thick tissue style masks to which I've become accustomed, Sulwhasoo uses a mesh fabric. Yes, you still look like a mummy come back from the dead, with eye, nose & mouth holes, but the fabric of this mask is different. Each side of the mesh features a peelable film, allowing a multi-phase use. Those meshy quality of the mesh seems to work to retain the moisture of the mask for a longer period of time.

I like to lie on my back until the mask has dried a bit then remove the outer film from the front of the mask. In about 25 minutes your skin will have absorbed most of the fluid. The results? PLUMP! Fermented ginsing and a cocktail of other medicinal herbs work to stimulate collagen and "brighten" the skin. I don't have specific spots to lighten, but I can say with certainty that my skin was more dewy and clearer on the days I used this sheet mask. Less "muddled" and more evenly toned. I don't know about you, but I place a high value on even skin tone once I see it - and with this I definitely saw pretty results. This simple (and relaxing!) mask seemed to calm any redness and hydrate my combination skin. My favorite part? After use I apply the rest of the serum from the pouch onto my face and décolletage to extend the luxurious experience and maximize the benefits. 

Next up, my new favorite serum. The 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum had me at hello. With a pump top (thank you, Jesus) I fell for it with my first use. The scent, the consistency, the dewy results - this is a treat to use. Olive oil, peony extract, honeysuckle, licorice and dozens of other natural botanicals plus my fave ingredient... hyaluronic acid combine to make this silky serum work miracles to plump and renew the skin. LOVE, love, love this silky miracle liquid. If you're serious about your hydration I would definitely consider adding this to your repertoire. That Korean obsession with adding "bounce" back to the cheeks must have inspired this amazing fluid. It is divine. And the pump top allows perfect and even dispensing every single time. Big fan.  

What I learned from this experience.

  1. Slow down & take your time. I've used masks before fairly frequently, but this one took longer to dry down. This was a pleasant exercise in patience and allowed my mind to drift and my body to relax. Think of this as an at-home spa experience. 
  2. Be open to new things: The honey-like clarifying mask & mesh-style brightening face mask were both different in texture and appearance than other products I've used, but the results spoke for themselves. Experimenting is a valuable tool and these are two new powerhouses in my beauty arsenal. 
  3. Eastern beauty products & techniques work: Korean medicinal herbs, honeysuckle extract, fermented ginseng, the ingredients on these products differed from any lists I'd examined before. And I liked it. My skin loved it. I want more of this old-school east-meets-west beauty action in my life. 
  4. Luxury comes in many forms: I truly enjoy the application of the serum and the "feel" of the brightening mask fluid. It is as if my skin is literally drinking in the minerals and nutrients. The ritual of application is not lost on me, and with each use I develop a greater appreciation of the legendary multi-step Korean skin care application process. Those girls are really on to something. 

This will not be my last deep dive into the world of K-beauty. In fact, I consider this just a tiny little dip in the pool of skin care potential. I can't wait to share more with you! Available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman

Beauty: Junetics Demonstrates that Energized Skin is Gorgeous Skin...

{All photographs in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{All photographs in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{Disclaimer: these products were offered to me free of charge to sample. I am not affiliated with Junetics nor do I make a commission or any revenue from the sale of their products nor from this post. All opinions and photographs are my own.}

By now you know I LOVE, love, love skin care. My brand loyalty is legendary and tends to keep me from veering too far into unknown territory, but an email discussing "energized skin" grabbed my attention. A few conversations and as many days later I was opening a package containing a smartly packed trio of products that promised hydrated, invigorated skin. 

Junetics (a brand I had never heard nor seen mention of before) is build around the premise of leveraging you skin's own cellular communication system to treat the visible signs of aging. What are those, you ask? Lackluster color, uneven texture, enlarged pores, dryness, fine lines and lack of that coveted "bounce" we all desire. 

Harnessing skin’s most powerful age-defying secret, Junetics’ revolutionary E24 Complex works day and night to boost cellular energy and cell–to-cell communication deep within skin, combating life’s aging aggressors to help restore the appearance of more youthful, ageless skin.
— Junetics website

What are my specific concerns? My combination skin has a tendency to enjoy bouts of dryness, uneven tone / texture and I harbor a deep desire for that pretty "bounce" in my cheeks. I have been dutifully trying their simple system consisting of a Day Serum, Night Cream & Eye Cream for about 10 days. Confession is due here: I didn't use it as directed. My skin is thirty, really thirsty. Dallas offers an arid climate that quickly dries out my complexion. So for me, the day serum wasn't enough. Twice daily I applied the serum followed by (or mixed with) the night cream. The resulting combo delivered the dewiness I love and the calming feeling of quenching dry areas. The eye cream even comes with cooling roller balls that stimulate the delicate eye area upon application. I was not as diligent with its use as the other two products, as it's just how my week has been. But the serum & moisturizer are truly standout products in my opinion. 

The result? Much to my surprise, today after hot yoga without a stitch of makeup on I discovered my skin was... radiant. Not just evenly toned, but dewy and hydrated. Yes, I've been upping my water intake and yes, hot yoga does deliver an afterglow, but this skin was good skin. Really good skin. Since I have completely replaced all serums and moisturizers for the past week or so with the Junetics trio I feel safe in my belief that the restored hydration can be credited to the treatments.  

Looking at the science behind it I can see why this hydration and prettily plumped appearance is visible: the powerful duo of Hyaluronic Acid & Silicium help shuttle water into the cells giving you that pretty runway model skin. Loving it! I also appreciate that there are no parabens, mineral oils, petrolatum, nitrosamine, phthalates, triclosan, synthetic color, sulfates, animal derived ingredients or unsafe substances. And... no animal testing. High marks all around for effective ingredients and responsible manufacturing processes. 

Here are some highlights from the brand's web site: 



Here's a link to their site for more info. The Introductory kit is definitely dew inducing! Much thanks to the team at Junetics for the opportunity to experience your lovely products. My (now quite happy & dewy) skin appreciates it!  

Interview: Going More Than Skin Deep with the Beauty Experts at Unit Skin Studio...

{ via  by Slavasan Lynam}

{via by Slavasan Lynam}

Instagram friends will have caught a glimpse of my tour of Dallas's Unit Skin Studio a few weeks back. The ultra-chic derm-on-demand outpost is novel in its approach and refreshing in its design. Nestled inside popular Preston Hollow Village at Walnut Hill and N. Central Expressway, this gleaming, light-filled space is a study in chic design (think: Slim Aarons photography lining the walls) and minimalist appeal. But to really tap into the true beauty of Unit's unique approach, we'll have to go more than skin deep. 

Rather than gush about their seriously state-of-the-art offerings and proprietary products (yes, they have them!), I'll let the experts on the team do the speaking. Please enjoy this in-depth interview with the delightful founder Lindsey Pineyro and partner & lead practitioner Sandra Witten, PA-C, MPAS. These ladies and the entire team were so generous with their time when I visited the location. I was wowed by the design of the space, of course, but it only took moments to suss out how passionate and knowledgeable the team was about their professional pursuit. Without further ado, here is what they shared: 

FD: Lindsey, from the moment you walk in the door at Unit Skin Studio, the atmosphere is decidedly stylish. Slim Aarons photography, modern furnishings & natural organic accents. Serene and professional but incredibly chic. Sandra credited you with the design for the interiors - which are amazing from start to finish. Can you tell me where you drew upon for your influences for the beautiful space? 
Lindsey Pineyro: I’ve always had a passion for interiors and really thinking outside the box.  We wanted Unit to feel like your ultra-chic living room that you never had.  From the coffee tables designed by Bret Comber out of Vancouver to the Stark Rug on the floor we thought of everything. 

We feel you can never go wrong with Slim Aaron I mean he defines luxury and jet-setting at its best and a picture is worth a thousand words.  It’s not just about coming to Unit for a “treatment” it’s about the way you feel when you are here, there is something that is drawing you the space.  We believe every touch point has a meaning from the Nespresso Coffee to the receipt paper it all matters to us. 

FD: I chatted with Sandra Witten and your team about everything from good moisturizers to laser resurfacing. From my discussions with Sandra and other team members it is clear your team is very, very knowledgeable about modern skincare technology.  appreciate that these advanced professional services are accessible in a boutique in a mixed use retail center. Why did you choose the Walnut Hill location for Unit? 
UNIT: Great question!  We chose Preston Hollow Village for many reasons!  We felt as though it would encompass a sense of community with all the great restaurants and residential space going in.  We knew that PHV needed a strong buy in from the community and held a high standard to the tenants coming into the center.  We were right on point with our choice.  From PHV we can serve the greater community plus individuals making their way home down the 75 corridor. 

FD: I was very impressed to see that your team has has developed your own line of professional grade skin care products. Unit MD Advanced Dermacare is not your typical line of serums and moisturizers. Between R&D and packaging, this is a major investment that’s been made in the brand. What drove the decision to develop your own line rather than carrying the typical skin care spa / dermatologist office brands?
UNIT: Here are Unit we wanted to be able to offer the best services and the best products!  As you can imagine there are many choices in the market place and yes some of them are great just like our line, however you cannot put a price on being able to speak to a true professional about your skin care needs as well as how our products can be incorporated. 

Investing in your skin is a commitment and we want to make sure that our clients feel confident in their curated plan when they leave.  Our line is unique in many way, we have the ability to compound some of our products such as Porcelain to the perfect strength for your skin!  You cant find that at the department store!

FD: Dallas loves its beauty treatments! Obviously the usual suspects - chemical peels and injectibles - are popular. You explained the myriad benefits of the Micropen and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy to me. These were treatments I’d never considered and I’m very intrigued by the concept. What results could a client expect to see from Micropen and PRP Therapy?  
UNIT: Micropen + PRP AKA “The Vampire Facial” is one of the most cutting edge technologies available for skin rejuvenation. This technology was discovered from wound healing research and has been popularized for its effects in sports medicine. Tiger Woods and tennis great Rafael Nadal have received the benefits of PRP for their orthopedic injuries.

Micro needling alone, provides amazing results. Also known as collagen induction therapy (CIT) the micro pen creates tiny wounds into the dermis. The skin responds to this “injury” by creating collagen. The cells that are responsible for this wound healing and collagen production “speak” to each other as they did when they were much younger, creating a robust collagen response. We apply the patients own plasma topically, which is chalk-full of the their own stem cells. Nothing can talk to your own collagen like your own stem cells. The result? Turbo-charged collagen like a Maserati! What does this mean for me? Thicker, more dense skin. less sagging, fine lines and wrinkles reduced, and texture like a baby’s derriere!

(Editor's Note: hello, fountain of youth! Albeit a bit intimidating based upon the description, my curiosity is definitely piqued when it comes to the Vampire Facial! If I dare to do it, I'll be sure to showcase it here and on Insta!)

FD: What other Unit treatments seem to be trending since you’ve opened your doors?  
UNIT: Vampire facial hands-down.

(Editor's Note: Interesting!!!) 

FD: For those on the fence about seeing a skin care specialist to address concerns or simply to develop a preventative skin care routine, what can you tell that that describes the Unit Skin Studio difference?  
UNIT: Unit, Neimans or Nordstrom? Every Dallasite goes somewhere for her skin care. The Unit difference is the quality of the products, and the medical degrees standing behind them. We have prescription strength skin care, that must be dispensed under the supervision of a medical professional. Think of it as over-the-counter vs prescription strength.

Which would you choose? Sandra is a degreed medical professional with 20 years of dermatology experience and Plastic Surgery experience pre dating that… Who would you rather have analyzing your skin care needs? She can also write prescriptions if you have any other dermatological issues. Hop over from Neimans, to Unit, you skin will be in great hands!

FD: Is there one star in the line?
UNIT: Vitality!

FD: And finally - any takeaway tips you can offer readers for caring for their skin each day? 
UNIT: Sandra's mantra - Retin-A at night and sunscreen in the morning is like brushing your teeth for your skin.

(Editor's Note: NOTED! Reassuring to read this and know that I'm doing this faithfully.)

Well... now that we've tapped into their serious skin care genius, I'd love to share a promotion happening now: 

Unit Skin Studio is offering for the month of October in honor of Halloween. Through October when you buy one Vampire Facial at Unit Skin Studio, you'll get one half off! Nothing can speak to your body like your own stem cells. Below is a list of just a few of the benefits from the Vampire Facial, known technically as the Platelet Rich Plasma Facial. 

  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles 
  • Builds collagen up to 1,000X faster than normal facial treatments 
  • Helps with tone and texture of the skin - sun spots, melasma 
  • Can be administered year round - no need to worry about avoiding the sun
  • Little to no downtime 
  • Little to no discomfort 

"Vampires may be scary, but our vampire facial is anything but! No tricks, just treats with our amazing Vampire Facial. Treat yourself this Halloween! This October Unit Skin Studio is offering a special so tempting, it's spooky! When you buy one Vampire Facial in October, you'll get one half off!"

DALLAS, TX, 75230
(214) 484-1221

TUES-FRI 10:00-6:00
SATURDAYS 10:00-3:00

So, girls and boys? What do you think? Is micro-needling something you'd consider? I'm curious, but I'm also keen to explore their skin care line. What makes it unique is its formulation and efficacy. They will not be able to sell it online, as it is more potent than the products available online without a prescription.  Before you plop down another $400 for a promised fountain of youth at a department store, consider swinging by Unit to explore their incredibly well priced line. Please tell Lindsey and the team I sent you. And if you do try micro-needling I would LOVE to see and hear all about it!  

Beauty: Micellar Water, The Simple Secret to Fresh-Faced French Complexions...

It's pretty clear from experiences traveling and reading the never ending gamut of articles touting the "secrets" to French beauty that the French approach to beauty is not similar to our personal "war" on beauty. Our Parisian counterparts appear to keep stress low and beauty routines simple (the polar opposite of the 12, or perhaps 15, step Korean beauty rituals). This is not to say that they don't put in effort, but they are not running to the dermatologist's office for this exotic treatment or that new injection. Yet French women possess enviable skin that exudes youth, health and radiance. How, pray tell, do they do it? 

Some attribute this to a key component we've been missing from our skin care process. Micellar water. Everyone from Vogue to Huffington Post has written about this liquid Holy Grail. A simple liquid that removed makeup, clears away impurities and deposits nutrients on the skin while toning? It sounds absolutely dreamy. So why aren't we using it?  Perhaps we are non-believers in its powers. Perhaps our "work harder" mentality prevents us from a more gentle, mineral-rich approach to skin care. But perhaps... just perhaps, we're doing it all wrong and our scarf-wearing, ballet-flat bearing sisters have a secret we need to be exploring.

Used à la parisienne, micellar water REPLACES the use of any tap water. The thinking behind this approach is that water from the faucet is harsh and taxes skin with buildup and additives that advance the aging process. Rather than scrub-a-dub-dub twice daily over your basin, what about a softer, gentler approach? What if you swabbed a cotton pad loaded with this simple (and largely inexpensive) liquid and washed away the cares of the day while balancing, toning and nourishing skin? What if? 

According to a Vogue article:

“It’s the modern soap,” explains New York City facialist (and Paris export) Isabelle Bellis, who regularly uses it in her bespoke treatments. Acting like a multitasking solution, most formulas don’t require additional rinsing with water, which can further strip sensitive skin in the colder months. Bellis, however, uses it almost like a toner, swiping a soaked cotton ball over the skin after cleansing, then following it with a gentle mist of thermal water, which contains more nourishing minerals and fewer chemicals than what comes from the tap.

The beloved product, which has become increasingly available stateside in recent years, has been spotted in the kits of backstage makeup artists and the bathrooms of models worldwide, with Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 and Orlane’s brightening, antioxidant-rich formula topping the must-have list. But micellar water’s magic properties don’t stop there. Paris-based makeup artist Violette also relies on it to master a sleek cat-eye. “To perfect the line, I use it on a Q-tip and clean up the edges,” she says. “No need to rinse—it’s superfast and efficient.” Enough said. Here are the nine formulas worth considering for your own medicine cabinet.

Am I ready to give it a go? Yes. yes, I am. By and large the brand mentioned most by beauty editors (especially those in Europe) is Embryolisse, boasting a loving and gentle product line to boot. I'm reading reviews on it as well as the others listed here below. I'm loving the idea of a nutrient-dense fluid to smooth over skin that can somehow, someway serve as a cleanser. Is it possible? Parisians (and skin pros) confirm it is. And I can't wait to add this luxurious, less aggressive step to my daily beauty ritual. 

How about you? Are you already hip to this marvelous method? I'd love to hear from you! 


Beauty: The Quest for that Brit Glow...

{image via  BravoTV  //  here }

{image via BravoTV // here}

There's certainly something to be said about those London ladies. While many American women (or at least some of us) seem obsessed with punishing our skin into submission (guilty), our female counterparts across the pond seem perpetually blessed with hydration and that enviable dewy glow. Notoriously overcast skies and persistent atmospheric humidity help keep their skin youthful, but it's difficult not to notice their preference for more natural ingredients and more loving skin care treatments. It is also noteworthy that many of our favorite beauty icons (Kate Moss, Elle MacPhereson, Charlotte Tilbury and others) hail from the UK.

So... just what are they using? Some of my favorite Instagram accounts are those of celebs who are more than happy to share their beauty essentials. Noteworthy is the emphasis on health and wellness (I'm looking at you, Super Elixir products!) and rose-infused beauty goods. Hydration is clearly a specific goal and by the looks of it these wonder products work wonders. 

I've rounded up a few of my favorites from around the web. But I'd love to encourage you to consider being kinder to yourself and your skin. Try nourishing yourself from the inside out with nutrient dense foods, a sense of wellbeing and carving out time for movement and fitness. Find activities you truly enjoy and do them as often as possible. That inner glow comes from - you guessed it - inside. Your very being is lit from within when you tap into your source of joy and happiness. 

As for your skin? Summer took its toll, didn't it? Consider fall a moment to rekindle your love affair with your skin. Seek out products like these with natural humectants, organic ingredients and nurturing properties. Develop a nightly skin care ritual that makes you feel beautiful. Enjoy the moments you carve out to care for your face and body. 

Self love, perhaps, is the greatest beauty secret of all. 


Beauty: The Secret Behind that Fabulous Sophia Loren Smile...

You know many things about Sophia Loren. Her captivating eyes, her voluptuous bod, her undeniably Italian va-va-voom. But she is also widely known for that magnetic smile. The team at Dolce&Gabbana formulated a lipstick shade specifically in the beauty's honor. Sophia Loren No 1 is not your typical red, it is a berry stained shade that might entice all of us to give saturated lips a try this fall. 

I had the opportunity to ask D&G makeup artist Christian McCulloch his thoughts on the bombshell in an interview. I think you'll love his answers and insights. After the interview, stick around to read how you can get a booking in his chair and let the beauty guru give you personal tips and tricks to reveal your own inner icon. 

Here's what I learned about inner beauty, skilled makeup application and what he's drinking under that Starbucks lid:

Sophia Loren: Italian bombshell and beauty icon for legions of women for decades. She embodies all we love about feminine beauty! packing the power of her sexy confidence into a single lipstick color and gleaming gold tube could not have been a simple task. I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes Sophia Loren No 1 so powerful and why this might be the shade that makes us all dare to bare a red lip. 
Sophia Loren is that classic Italian beauty whose look and style resonates with women and men alike. Sophisticated, sexy, daring, feminine and bold all at once; she exudes confidence and timeless style. Sophia is living proof that women's beauty and grace is achievable at all ages and through the decades. 

This shade is a go-to winner for women of all skin tones. 

Let’s talk fall makeup! The Dolce&Gabbana introductions for #dglovesfall exude feminine romance. Antique rose, mauve, and a some unexpected shades like Tahitian Grey & Jaipur Blue - give us plenty to work with to achieve a wide range of looks What type of street style vibe are you hoping these pretty products inspire? What is your personal favorite “daily” makeup look heading into the cooler months? 
I often love a strong and sexy smoky eye with a pale neutral, soft lip color. Never fails! The eyeshadow shades in the Fall collection are the most incredible hues for big bold sexy eyes with added dimension. I love to play with the color and get it to be bold enough without overdoing it. A statement, but a sophisticated one. That look can be amped up by adding a winged liner. 

Deep bold glossy lips are making a come back. Experiment with red and deep violet / purple tones for this bold, glamorous look. Creamy matte velvet skin, defined brows, two-tone dimensional eyeshadow and a glowing cheek is my hallmark look for the new fall makeup.

In your work with models, celebs and beauty enthusiasts alike, what is a subtle trend you hear them all asking for? Is there a specific feature they are hoping to play up? Are there any emerging trends you’re noticing?
The flushed cheek with a pop of blush, combined with a strong contour and dimension has been on top of everyone’s request list.  The “sculpted” face!  Brows have also been a priority; everyone wants those thick, defined and natural strong brow. This is achievable with the Dolce&Gabbana Shaping Eyebrow Pencil

Since our last interview I’ve become far more familiar with the Dolce & Gabbana skin care line. Great skin is what it’s all about right now. I’m hooked on a few goodies like the Essential Toner and the Aurealux Serum. Hello, healthy skin! Could you offer any pro tips for keeping skin hydrated and radiant as cold weather settles in?
I love removing makeup and impurities with the Dolce&Gabbana Essential Cleansing Oil as it is both comforting and soothing to the skin.  To deliver extra radiant hydration; use the Dolce&Gabbana Aurealux Mask followed by the Dolce&Gabbana Aurealux Serum – velvety skin will be revealed.

Back to the subject of Sophia Loren and her inimitable beauty: What expert beauty tips could you offer us for channeling our own inner bombshell and embracing La Dolce Vita a la the Italian bombshell?
I think that brow shaping and defining is key for Italian bombshell Sophia-ness! Have them shaped gently by someone you trust! Extra lashes and liner on the outer corners to deliver that feline flick, that meets the brow is also key. Then shadow on the lid can be on the paler side for day and amped up heavier for night, I like to use a cream shadow like the Dolce&Gabbana Perfect Mono.Finish the look with luscious lips and contoured cheekbones – that’s how you find your inner Sophia.

And a few fun rapid-fire “get to know you” questions: 

Favorite summer escape? 
If I’m staying relatively local, I love heading to East Hampton, NY for the tranquil setting and boating. I usually spend Labor Day Weekend in Cape Cod; so gorgeous there. If I'm going offshore- Tulum, Mexico is a magical spot I keep returning to for the healthy lifestyle, food, yoga, massage, meditation, etc. 

Your typical Starbucks order?
My Starbucks order is pretty classic:  Grande Cappuccino! A Venti if it's a tough morning! 

Must-have items in your carry-on?
In my carry on:  Aside from my makeup brushes, I love to have a good book or great magazine article to get into. The New Yorker, New York magazine and Time always have something intelligent and current to absorb in my down time. I love learning more about the upcoming presidential race. Also the Beauty & Fashion mags keep me on my toes and inspired to do more great work. Then it's really the basics: iPad, toiletries, (Dolce&Gabbana Skin of course!) a Rose Water Mist and cashmere cardigan helps! 

Last thing you downloaded?
Latest download is the new Lana del Rey album. Always love anything new from Beyoncé - my girl from Houston! Also love that Diplo and Justin Bieber song!

Well don't you love him just a little more now? I do! (If you missed my earlier interview with him, check it out here.) For an up close and personal experience with the brand, Christian himself and that iconic lip color, here's the skinny on his upcoming Houston appearance at Saks Galleria:

Dolce&Gabbana National Make Up Artist, Christian McCulloch Private Consultations

Saturday, September 26th 11AM – 7PM

Saks Fifth Avenue at The Galleria
5115 Westheimer Rd
Houston TX

Call to make your appointment: (713) 627 – 0500 EXT. 5102


For you video lovers (raising hand high!), here's a fun backstage glimpse of Sophia introducing her signature lipstick shade:

Beauty: Weekly Love List...

{Photos in this post via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{Photos in this post via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

If you follow me on Instagram you've no doubt already seen me gushing about my current beauty faves. My love of Charlotte Tilbury isn't new, but after much trial & error (yes, error) I've settled upon my winners from her line. First, the real winner is the Light Wonder. I actually look better each day after I remove my makeup thanks to that hylauronic acid and a botanical alternative to retinol. Stuff is amazing and trumps all my other foundations. Next up, her concealer is more opaque than my longtime fave from YSL. I love it in shade 2 which matches my skin and covers up discolored areas and any under eye circles. Love your lips? You will REALLY love them after using her Lip Cheat pencil in Pillow Talk. Perfect for over-lining your pucker & giving your pout a but more plump without fillers. 

The surprise hit (which I mentioned a week ago) is the Multi-Miracle Glow. I cannot believe how useful it is. In two short weeks I've used it in the following ways:

  • to remove stubborn eye makeup
  • as overnight plumping mask (I misted with rose water after applying) 
  • to treat my daughter's eczema (totally hooked after seeing how her skin healed)
  • on chapped lips (more of that to come as fall kicks in)
  • as an eye moisturizer treatment 

The massive jar is $60 which is a wonderful value for the myriad uses this lovely pink gel offers. I highly recommend you swing by a Tilbury counter & ask for a little sample. Try it for yourself & see what you think. That's all for now. happy Thursday, all! 


Beauty: The Very Necessary End of Summer Skin Reboot...

I've sunblocked. I've worn hats. I've stayed in the shade when I could. And yet, I have an unwanted tan on my face. When I tell you my lovely visage is thirsty I truly mean it. And as I look at my vanity counter I realize I'm slowly but surely adding a cool stash of a singular brand to my tried and true winning product arsenal. Chanel (I'm surprised to say) has been earning its way into my very competitive skin care collection. Competition is stiff, as I'll quickly ditch what doesn't work effectively. So seeing more of those double C's in my mirrored tray tells me those babes in lab coats at Chanel beauty HQ know how to deliver maximum results. 

What heroes can I share with you? Mostly they fall within two groups: the Hydra Beauty and Resynchronizing Skincare. These two sub-collections within the esteemed Chanel skincare line will remedy all of your late summer complexion woes. Personally it's dry, parched skin in need of rehydration. But thanks to the unwanted sun exposure I'm all about gentle exfoliation by way of the right mix of acids. Think: a glowing renewed Gigi Hadid type glow and you've got the picture. 

I've found my favorites amongst these lines and am eager to share. You should know my preferences to decide if this might work for you. I like gentle yet effective exfoliation via glycolic & salicylic acid serums. I adore products with hyaluronic acid, as the plumped look is oh, so fabulous on everyone. I prefer light cream formulas that deliver ongoing hydration and lend skin that coveted bounce and a hint of dewiness without irritation. And don't forget the lips: a good balm works wonders. Also: I like a comprehensive yet simple program to follow. I like knowing I'm getting antioxidants, a peptides, retinol and everything else I need to round out my skincare "diet" if you will. 


This huge jar ($60) is a miracle worker. I am probably more surprised than you, but this beautiful pink gel inside is somehow the perfect 3-in-1 product to not only removes makeup, but also acts as a mask and an overnight hydrating treatment. I've tried Multi-Miracle Glow and am a convert. And did I mention the amount given is huge? This rose-gold lidded jar has proudly earned a spot on my counter. 

The heavy hitters, though, come from Chanel. The "holy trinity" at work here can be found in the Resynchronizing collection. Three bold black & white bottles possess everything you need to revitalize your skin and undo a little damage. An effective yet gentle glycolic peel called Le Weekend is the star of the show here, but no star works alone. Paired with Le Jour (a delightful salicylic acid rich serum for morning) and La Nuit (a hylauronic packed hydrating product for night) reveals brighter, clearer, smoother and more plumped skin without much thought or participation on your part. A handy travel sized version of the trio is available for those of you on-the-go (or on the fence). 

And during your waking (and makeup wearing hours) I love pampering the skin with either the Chanel Hydra collection or Dr. Dennis Gross's Hylauronic Moisture Cushion gel cream. The Hydra collection is idea for combo skin. If you are truly on the dry side, you should choose the cream version of the moisturizer versus the gel cream. And Dr. Dennis Gross is a very eddective brand oyu should quickly familiarize yourself with. You'll see more of these all-stars here as I share more of my current faves. When I'm feeling really special (read: tired & desperate) I'll whip out some eye patches to rejuvenate the eye area. 

If you were only going to invest in three of these, this would be my essential mix:


So what about you? How's your skin faring now that it's August and the season of the sun is winding down? Are you in need of some facial R&R? Did you stay loyal to your sunscreen or are your proudly wearing your sunny glow? 

Beauty: Fresh Faced & Fabulous With Summer Favorites...

{Photos in this post all via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{Photos in this post all via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Look back through old posts & you'll see I have a long terms love affair with one specific product: Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer. When I want to look fresh and fabulous, this hydrating product works wonders on my face. Winter may call for a different color, but come summer it's all about her "Nude" version which is my skin only better. It leaves me dewy and even-toned without masking my skin. 

{Photos via yours truly, Franki Durbin}

Recently I discovered a few new items to add to my "forever favorites" category. What are they? A blush the shade of joy (seriously, it might even beat out my NARS), the perfect nude lip liner (and nude lipstick to match) and... wait for it... a liquid bronzer good for adding that sun-kissed sheen anywhere on the body.  

So... let's talk about the basics. This tinted moisturizer. I've used it for about 7+ years now (not kidding) and feel it more than earns all those beauty awards. It delivers enough pigment to blur imperfections and enough hydration to keep your skin from feeling parched. I personally use it over my own moisturizer and my favorite primer, but it's a fantastic product. Consider this the Swiss Army knife of cosmetics as it has SPF 20, it hydrates and plumps with a healthy serving of hyaluronic acid and it makes you look all J. Lo glowy. 


Now the fun part... color! I love, love, love applying makeup but I am big on achieving a clean look in the end. No bizarre experimentation here, it's all about ending up with fresh appearance and a healthy glow. With that, let me introduce you to the newest blush in my arsenal... Heather Pink. If you follow the post-show break downs of what your favorite celebs wore to this event or that and what makeup they rocked, this blush is one that has been seen on the red carpet a LOT this year. I now understand why. It's pretty, perky and just the right shade of pink and not a hint of "glitter" in the mix. It's Audrey Hepburn perfect. 


Now for the finishing touches. I've trimmed my eye routine down for summer. I'm loving a wash of neutral over the entire eye, a glaze of shimmery bronze-beige shadow on the lids themselves, my "must-have" waterproof black liner and volumizing mascara. For summer, it's perfect. For lips I'm really loving dusty pink nudes. Here's what's presently in the mix: Natural Lips is the name of the liner. It's ideal for achieving the Kylie lips your crave. I don't normally do liner, but this year I'm obsessed giving my pucker a bit more pout. For color, try Spiced Rose, it's that nude-ish/rosy-pink you want but never quite seem to find.


Now for the surprising little tube that took me a while to appreciate. It's a bronzing product in gel form. For some reason I can't work this one into my facial routine, BUT... I've discovered it is amazing for collarbones, shoulders, legs and other areas of the body you want to give a sun kissed look to without, you know, actually going in the sun.

Try it and see if you have the same success. It is not sticky at all, it absorbs into the skin and leaves behind a very believable warmth. And I have yet to see it "rub off" on things the way some of my other bronzing products do. However, when it's time to shower off, it vanishes like a thief in the night. This is a genuinely great product in a smart format. Get your glow on here

Yes, I know, it's intended for your lovely face, but there's no shame in using a great product in a different way if it makes your legs & décolletage look fabulous, right? Beauty hacks are awesome. 

So that's a little look at my current summer beauty routine. For a look back other beauty & skin care (a personal obsession) posts, explore a few more of my beauty-centric posts: