Category Archives: beauty

friday finds

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a busy week at SMC HQ…want to see what I’ve been up to?

Earlier this week, I got a note that Urban Waxx, my favorite waxing spot in Portland, is hosting a 24-hour Waxx-a-Thon this Saturday, 10/6, starting at 9 am. Yep, you can get your bikini line tidied up at 2 am, friends! Details are over here, but the jist is this: appointments are good, but walk-ins are welcome, and all of the proceeds go to two excellent charities – one for nature, and one for the LGBT community. There will also be food, booze and donuts! If you’re in town, I hope you’ll stop by and groom in the name of charity.

My poor nails haven’t seen the inside of a mani/pedi shop in…well, in so long I’m not willing to admit it. That all ends today. I just got my samples of OPI’s new Germany collection, and will be beelining to my friendly neighborhood salon to try them out this afternoon. Can’t even tell you how excited I am about these colors…I’m going for “My Very First Knockwurst” or “Don’t Pretzel My Buttons” for my fingers, and for the toes, it’s got to be “Suzi & the 7 Düsseldorfs”.

Crimson Mim, a sweet little shop in Palo Alto, just launched its e-commerce site, which is big news. They have a tightly-edited collection of just about every name I know and love, including Rachel Comey, Philip Lim, Velvet and Loeffler Randall. I’m in love already. Now, where did I put that AmEx?

Oh! And speaking of great stores, before I forget, there are a couple of fantastic sales to be had this weekend. Take 30% off the fall collection at Diane von Furstenburg with code FALL30. Also, it’s Friends & Family time at Tory Burch, which means that code TBFRIENDS gets you 25% off sitewide. Go forth and shop!

Last but not least, it’s time for my weekly Pinterest pick. I keep going back to this crazy versatile Jerome Dreyfuss bag I spotted at Saks a while back, and pinning images of it in various colors and states. I am pretty much hypnotized by the fact that these two photos are the same bag (albeit in different colors, obvi). Can’t get over it, and kind of think I have to have it.

Have a wonderful weekend…I’ll be here slaving away on that massive project I keep mentioning. Wish me luck, and have a relaxing weekend on my behalf, won’t you?

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beauty buzz: everything you ever wanted to know about serums

First, let me confess a bias: I love serums. Love them. I think they’re the secret to amazing skin. (Well, that and strategic exfoliation, but that’s another story for another time.) But whenever I start exclaiming to one woman or another about the wonders of a great serum, they look at me blankly. “Serum?”, they say. “What’s the point?”

The point, friends, is this: Serums are a magic potion of super-potent, maximum-strength ingredients that are delivered to your skin in their purest form. No moisturizers, SPFs or tint to muck up the medicine. It goes on when your face is its cleanest state – post-wash at night, post-shower in the morning – so your skin is ready and able to drink up every last drop of goodness your serum has to offer. Though it can be an investment (some are upwards of $200), you only use 3-5 drops at a time, so a bottle lasts a long time.

A great serum might not have overnight-wonder potential. It might work slowly over weeks, or even months. But the net result, without fail, is happier, healthier, prettier, glow-ier skin. If you’re not using one, read on…I’ll convince you. If you are…I’m betting I’ll get you to switch brands.

If you really want to confuse yourself, stop into Sephora sometime and tell them you want a serum. There are literally hundreds of options, and even a serum evangelist like me doesn’t fully understand what they all do. But I’m nothing if not curious. So, I sent out a note to all of my favorite brands – and some brands I knew nothing about – and told them I wanted to test them all. And friends, I’ve been testing more than 40 different serums for the last two months (head over to Instagram @shoppingsmycardio if you want to see my bathroom counter as proof). I tried the good, the bad, and the meh, and was left with the greatest. Let me introduce the SMC Serum Dream Team:

Obviously, you’re not going out and buying all 7 of these. So, how about a handy-dandy serum decoder?

If your skin needs:

  • Moisture: Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum ($48). I’ve been a longtime devotee of Caudalie’s Radiance Serum for so long, I should own stock. Their magic is based on grapeseeds, and you know how healthy those are. This newest version is designed to give your skin a serious does of moisture, which is perfect for this time of year. My parched skin was much happier almost instantly.
  • Fine line reduction: Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Supplement ($67). You know I love Bobbi for cosmetics, but this serum still wowed me with its instant line reduction power. It gives the effect of candlelight, or a soft-focus lens, blurring out those fine lines until they’re barely visible. And it has more of that grape extract I love, so there’s moisture coming your way as well.
  • Redness reduction: Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ($50). For me, the jury’s still out on whether dark spot reduction is really possible. But redness reduction and a general evening of skin tone definitely is, and this Kiehl’s serum does it…without added brighteners to trick your eye.
  • All of the above: Nude Skincare Cellular Renewal Serum ($82). One of my “wow” tests, Nude’s serum delivered on brightness, moisture, line reduction and skin tone evening. Some of it was smoke-and-mirrors (ie, temporary brighteners and tighteners), since the effect was so immediate, but some mornings, smoke and mirrors are just fine. I’m optimistic that the lasting effects will match up. {Be aware: multi-tasking is great, but the more things a serum can do, the less intense the results will be in any one area. If you have one specific goal, like redness-reducing, you’ll get more bang-for-your-buck by choosing a one-trick serum than a multi-tasker like this.}
  • Prevention/Repair: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($152). One of these days, I want to do an interview with the skin experts at SkinCeuticals. I don’t always understand what everything does (ah, science), but I never, ever doubt that their products mean business. C E Ferulic delivers Vitamins C & E directly to your skin, and essentially works to amp up your skin’s resistance to UV damage (by 8x, they say). It also stimulates collagen production, so your skin will get more supple and toned, and show less fine lines over time. This one’s a slow-actor, but if you’re looking for serious medicine, it’s the one.
  • Healthy glow: Peter Thomas Roth Laser-Free Resurfacer ($75). PTR always delivers great products, but when I pumped this out of the bottle and got a blood-red serum, I was skeptical (and a little weirded out). The red comes from the dragon’s blood complex they use (no, really). Don’t fear, the color dissipates, and you’re left with a fantastically warm, glowy complexion, like you spent a morning out on the plantation sipping sweet tea. {PS: If you’re curious about this one, this set from Nordstrom is an amazing deal – full-size serum, plus their unbelievable gel moisturizer and an exfoliator for the price of the serum. Do it.}
  • Bargain Find: Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum ($45). Now mind you, that’s $45 for two ounces…most of these brands only give you one. I’ve been a Juice Beauty fan since before I was a blogger – it’s just good, clean stuff that makes your skin happy. This serum feels amazing on your skin, and is so packed with healthy, organic ingredients, you just know it’s doing good things. Try it for a month, and see if your skin isn’t happier. I dare you.

So, tell me…have I made a serum convert out of you? I’m dying to hear! Can I answer any questions?

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friday finds: a glamorous morning

Happy Friday, friends! Today’s list is all about turning those dreary, dragging weekday mornings into something a little more extraordinary. Enough with fumbling blindly for our iPhones and staggering toward the shower…it’s time to add some glam to your morning routine.

Brace yourselves: I’m about to recommend a $6 shampoo. No, really. Heidi Klum has been schilling for Clear Haircare, so I decided to give it a try (celebrity endorsements: they work, people). And though I was the skepticalest of skeptics, I kind of love it…more than my usual $30 shampoo, in fact. I’m sure it’s packed full of sulfates, but I can’t even remember why those were so bad for us. As promised, it does a great job of improving scalp health – my hair sheds less, my scalp is less itchy on non-wash days…I’m a happy girl. Stick with your old conditioner, though.

Strong Lengths shampoo, Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy, $6

In some alternate reality, I’d spend the morning hours lounging in La Perla while my butler brings me tea. But the reality is, it’s a stretch to make much of anything feel glam before 8 am. But now imagine you wake up and make yourself tea in this mug, then add a slow drizzle of organic honey from your beautiful teak honey jar. I’m feeling more glamorous already.

Harabu House Gold thermo mug, $30 & Teak honey jar & stick, $38

It was like at first sight when I came across Lola James jewelry. Every piece is so easy – a complete no-brainer to wear or even to layer. And they’re so fun and cheerful, it would be impossible not to smile when you put them on. Then I saw the prices. Now, it’s love.

Luck Necklace, $45 / Protection necklace, $45 / Pebbles necklace, $45 / Smokin’ Hot bracelet, $30 – All, Lola James Jewelry

Nothing adds that final piece of cheery polish to an outfit like tossing on a gorgeous scarf as you head out the door. Our fabulous sale spy, Roxanna, introduced me to a new line, and I’m obsessed. I suspect you will be too. They have a bevy of beautiful options, but this sunset-inspired palette is easily my favorite.

m0851 modal/cashmere scarf, $295

And before you head out the door, a pretty, pretty Pinterest pick to put you in a happy mood: Oscar de la Renta, fresh from his spring 2013 runway. How can you help but be happy in the face of turquoise, feathers and tulle?

Oscar de la Renta spring 2013, via

I feel better already. How about you?

Have a great weekend, friends, and I’ll see you back here next week!

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one great thing: bobbi brown desert twilight palette

Desert Twilight eye palette, Bobbi Brown, $60

I hardly ever go in for eyeshadow palettes, because inevitably, I use one or two shades, and the rest languish in their case for eons. I refuse to throw them out (can’t just waste them!) and they grow into a collection that could rival some hoarders.

But the one exception I make to my no-palettes rule is for Bobbi Brown. Because every single time I buy one of her palettes, I use that thing until it’s completely gone. Every color is so unbelievably wearable, versatile and flattering that I even end up – gasp – branching out on occasion, and not just reaching for the same boring pale pink shadow day in and day out.

Her latest, Desert Twilight, might just be my favorite yet. I am having way too much fun playing makeup counter with this one – every time I take it out, I come up with a new combination of colors that I love. And because there are a couple of shimmers and a liner shade thrown in for good measure, it’s the ultimate travel palette. Day, night, casual, formal, whatever you’ve got going, Bobbi’s got your back, and I love her for it.

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beauty buzz: perfect summer-to-fall scents

{Editor’s Note: One of you dear readers asked me about my favorite summer-to-fall fragrances this month. And with the last day of summer looming (yes, Labor Day is my definition of the end of summer), it felt like the perfect time to lend advice on picking a scent to bridge the gap between lazy summer nights and crisp fall mornings. Sadly, all that fragrance-sniffing leads to migraines at my house, so I’ve enlisted a super-sophisticated surrogate to guide you through some of the best scents of the season. Jen, who lives in Manhattan and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to beauty finds, has picked three favorites that she swears are perfect for this time of year, and is even taking you along on a dreamy end-of-summer holiday to try them out. Enjoy the ride!}

Jen V. ~ Jo Malone’s Wild Bluebell Cologne is a “light floral” according to Jo, and in fact, is as light as a sheer, white dress. The scent, while fresh, feminine, and lovely, is not entirely innocent. There is an edgier side to it that is not obvious upon first spray – think tea with the Duchess and her not-so-prim little sister. The base is white amber and musk, which supports the lighter floral notes, and a “spicy chord of cloves” adds a bit of naughtiness, and gives the scent that extra edge that allows it to transition you from your summer cottage in the Cotswolds to your London flat in autumn with perfect English aplomb. For greater longevity during the colder months, layer the scent over the matching shower gel and body cream, just as you would with cashmere – or better yet, a classic English tweed over silk.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Aqua Universalis is equally at home with duality. Upon first spray, one is hit with a strong burst of citrus (lemon from Sicily) and bergamot. Then the white bouquet notes begin to unfold subtly, and a woodsy musk weaves its way through, transforming a light summer day into an Indian summer night with a hint of seasons to come. Imagine Tilda Swinton in I Am Love (see this film if only for the Jil Sander wardrobe), returning from a lover’s tryst in the Mediterranean to a formal, family lunch in Milan. With no time to shower and change scents, Aqua Universalis easily evolves to more serious pursuits.

On the flip side is Bond No. 9, the perfume house famed for scents named after the neighborhoods and iconic landmarks of New York. I was hoping to fall for their latest, Sag Harbor, but instead, it’s the Hamptons that remains my summer love. It’s easy to imagine lying on the beach, with the first, crisp citrus notes of the scent enveloping me in a spray of sea, slightly salty. Throughout the day, the sun warms the scent to a magnolia and light jasmine, but not in an overly feminine way. Later in the evening, warm amber and sandalwood leave you in a languid post-beach haze that helps this scent seamlessly transition to fall.

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friday finds

Is there anything better than a summer Friday? I’m awfully excited about this week’s list of finds, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

I spent some time at Tiffany & Co last week checking out some top-secret goods you’re going to love…and managed to fall head over heels for these sunnies. The truth is that I’ve been coveting a pair of their sunglasses since they launched, but they were maybe a smidge too blingy. But these? Perfection…right down to the Tiffany blue flecks in the tortoiseshell.

Tiffany Locks sunglasses, $430

Too soon for fall? Never! For the first time since she branched into apparel, I find myself coveting a look from Rebecca Minkoff. Check out the drape on this shearling-lined trench…so, so versatile. And the dress (which, I’ll admit, I’d wear as a tunic) has one of those prints I’ll dream about.

Henry coat ($798) and Wednesday Dress ($368); both, Rebecca Minkoff

After those splurges, I owe you some steals, don’t you think? Spotted this spotted tunic (surely they aren’t serious about it being a dress) at Forever 21, of all places. Sure, it’s polyester, but it’s $20, and looks a lot like my Tucker tunics. Worth the gamble, I think.

Polka-dot dress/tunic, Forever 21, $20

I got the loveliest-smelling hand soap in the mail yesterday! It’s Neroli & Clementine by Mor, and it is heaven. The packaging is a little ’80s Asian, but I’m willing to call it kitschy and forgive them if it means I get to have this light, sweet/tart citrus fragrance in my life.

Neroli & Clementine body products, Mor, starting at $10

And last, of course, my Pinterest pick for the week. My new favorite way to save magazine clips is to use the Pinterest app to snap a quick pic of them. Be gone, cluttery inspiration board which I have nowhere to hang! Maybe this amazeballs Miu Miu jacquard jacket will materialize in its place.

via Elle, June 2012

Oh, and! While we’re talking Pinterest, you must check out Picnic, a genius new Pinterest tool that launched this week. Picnic lets you shop pins or find similar images. Things it’s great at: tracking down that polka dot tee someone pinned from a dead link; tracking down a decent substitute for that vintage YSL necklace your style icon pinned; finding more wedding bouquets like the one your BFF pinned. It’s also perfect for tracking down the source of a photo online, so you can credit things properly. Hallelujah! Install it, use it, love it.

That’s it for me, friends. If you’re in Portland this weekend, you might want to stop by Mercantile and check out their Lafayette 148 trunk show, by the way. I was pleasantly surprised by the direction they’ve taken this season. Very mod-chic, with loads of staples you’ll wear to threads.

Have a fantastic weekend!


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beauty buzz: the perfect summer sunscreen

I know, I know…where are my Friday Finds? I have been a neglectful web shopper this week, friends. Well, that’s not true…but I’ve been buying boring house things like vacuums and new drinking glasses. Riveting fare, no? I did raid the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, as predicted…and for those of you that are non-cardholders, you’ll be getting your shop on this morning as well! Be sure to check out my picks…I bought a few too many of them (that little short-sleeved Halogen sweater is awesome!), and tell me what you bought! I do love a vicarious shopping spree.

All of that to say…instead of Friday Finds, I have one fantastic new beauty find for you. Sunscreen…I just can’t get enough. But you know, it’s not that fun to apply, particularly to RE-apply ad nauseum when you’re outside all weekend, as every single expert tells us we must. Even the best of sunscreens can get a little greasy and unappealing.

So, how’s this for genius? Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 30 (there are others, but this is my personal fave). It’s a brush that contains a built-in mineral sunscreen!

Keep it in your purse, it doesn’t leak, and when you need a touch-up, you get it seamlessly! No oily sheen, no chalky white residue, and no breakouts. With an added bonus of covering up that “glow” you’ve developed on your afternoon hike.

It’s officially made it to permanent-resident status in my makeup bag, supplanting my pretty Chanel compact. Pretty is great and all, but I can’t resist a multi-tasker this awesome. It also happens to travel perfectly…no liquids to declare!

Nab one soon…I had to check three online stores to find you one that wasn’t sold out. And have a fantastic weekend, everyone…see you back here on Monday!


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