The New Essentials | Current Favorites | Beauty + Travel

Lately, I've given in to the temptations of Sephora a bit more than I probably should. Between full-size products I've purchased, samples included in orders and even products I've randomly grabbed at the drugstore, I've found some new gems that have been on high rotation in my beauty routine. Since my life is always chaos more or less living out of my FJ Cruiser caravan with how much I am on the road for work or traveling on vacation, many of these products are geared towards packability, making this post a perfect fit to consider as we enter summer vacation season. Pro tip: click the pictures to shop! Enjoy! 

Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe's Watermelon Sleeping Mask first came to me as a Sephora sample. I thought it would be a gimmick. My stupidly hydrated (and yes glowing) skin the next day told me I was wrong about that. Long story short, you need Watermelon Glow in your life. If you are living that carry-on-only life like me, you'll be happy to know there is a travel size to bust that post-flight dry dullness. 

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance 

This post could alternatively be titled the glow edit. For me, I gravitate towards lighter weight, products in the spring and summer to achieve that natural dewy look. This Laura Mercier Radiance primer does just that. It has a slight tint and provides a natural glow plus offers outstanding lasting power for foundation. I wear this primer both layered under foundation as well as on its own as it provides a lovely boost to my natural skin. Multi-functional, quick makeup products are a must when I travel--Laura Mercier Radiance goes in the bag every time! 

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 

To be honest, I am not completely sold on YSL Touche Eclat as the "holy grail" cult classic that some swear by. However, I do find myself reaching for it a lot for two reasons. First, convenience and travel. The packaging is sleek, easy to use, and not messy (since the product is all contained), making it perfect for purses or TSA approved zip-loc bags. Second, it is subtle and lightweight. As I mentioned before, I do not like wearing heavy makeup during the warmer months--particularly concealer. Touche Eclat provides a light, glowing (I know, I know) coverage. Maybe it will reach cult classic status for me after all. 

Pravana The Perfect Brunette 

As the more observant amongst you may have noticed, I am no longer a blonde! I've gone back to my roots (sorry for the oldest pun in the well-worn book), and am now trapped in that sometimes awkward phase of the blonde to brunette process where the newly darkened locks can be a bit unpredictable. For me, this manifested in a horrifying red, brassy tone starting to come through about a week after the initial dye job. Luckily I found Pravana Perfect Brunette products. Just like blondes can use purple toned products to keep their shade icy, brunettes can avoid that uncomfortable orangey red from sneaking in by applying the teal-toned Pravana suite of products. I have the shampoo, conditioner and hair mask. I only use the mask once a week because this stuff REALLY works! I already have broken my own carry-on lifestyle rule to bring these products with me on vacay, they are that good. 

Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Sheet Mask

I grabbed this Garnier Moisture Bomb mask while cruising through Wal-Mart picking up last minute supplies for my trip to LA. "Moisture bomb, hmm...I could use a bomb of hydration on my face after a morning of travel," I thought to myself. Impulsively, I threw the mask in the cart, and subsequently into my suitcase. Cue me the next day, on my balcony overlooking Hollywood Hills enjoying an instant skin refresh. Garnier Moisture Bomb masks are a traveler's best friend. The mask is refreshingly cool on the face, and the clean up is easy--simply remove the sheet and massage any remaining product into your skin. Another pro-tip: apply mask in your Uber while en route from airport, and freak out your driver, bf, or anyone around you. 

FYI, if you are interested in my ESSENTIAL PRODUCTS OF ALL TIME click here for that (obviously) still relevant list! 

Ride or Die Essentials | Closet Essentials | Beauty Bar

With every new year, I find myself finding new excuses to buy new items. A resolution of style, so to speak. If you find yourself in a similar situation--wanting to overhaul your wardrobe or beauty routine--read on to discover some products that I literally can't live without, year after year. 

1. White V-Neck Tee 

Anytime I pack a weekend bag, I always include a white v-neck tee. Why? Because it is the perfect outfit-saver. A white tee can take you from day to night--just add a leather jacket! My favorite tee is the Essential V-Neck from Victoria's Secret PINK. It is semi sheer which adds a sexy factor over a bralette and the sleeves are the perfect length (not too short). 

2. Black Skinny Jeans

Like the white tee, black skinny jeans have so much day to night potential. I prefer black denim over traditional blue because it is more slimming, more easily dressed up, not to mention more bad ass. While I have always enjoyed black skinnies on a budget, I splurged on rag + bone this year and will never turn back. The fit is so flattering! 

3. Jergen's Natural Glow Body Lotion

I've been buying this lotion since I was 16--no joke. My skin is naturally olive toned, so I never really get too pale, but the subtle color in Natural Glow give my tone an extra boost during the winter months. It smells great too and the formula has really improved in delivering even color over the years! Only downside is the price, but take it from me, off-brands are not as good. 

4. Over-the-Knee Boots 

If you've been following along here on my blog, you've definitely seen thigh-high boots in plenty of my posts. This is for good reason--they are such a great addition to anyone's closet! When investing, look for a good quality leather, a comfortable heel style and a color that will go with most of your looks (in my case, I ended up buying brown and black, haha). Personally, I love a low, comfy heel so I can take the boots with more outfits from dresses to jeans and a tee. Stuart Weitzman makes the holy grail of OTK boots, and they are so worth the money (especially if you find a good deal on eBay!). 

5. Animal Print Bag

When you think of a bag that goes with everything, animal print styles probably aren't the first things that come to mind. However, I find myself reaching for my jungle-inspired bags more than any others (and that's not just due to my penchant for leopard). An animal print adds a subtle pop of pattern to simpler ensembles and can add that extra bit of edge your outfit needs. Find a shape and print that speak to you and go for it! You'll be surprised how many looks your animal print beauty can tie together. 

6. Black Leather Jacket

What can I say? Words cannot express how I feel about my black leather jacket. It has gotten me through so many lazy quests to find a good outfit. It has given me all the model-off-duty feels. It has just made my life so much better. Buy one now. Invest in a good one. You won't regret it and you'll have it forever. 

7. Little Black Romper 

One time I was talking to my dad about how it sucked he didn't get to wear rompers because he was missing out on the extreme levels of comfort. Quickly, I got a disturbing mental image of my dad in a romper, but in all seriousness, hail to the romper! If you invest in even just one or are an addict like me, you need to have a good black onesie in your closet. Keep the styling simple and the piece will take you from day to night (there and back again, a romper's tale, by Luna Elise?). Ok, clearly too excited about rompers here...on to the next topic.. 

8. Ray-Ban Aviators

The classic green-black lens, gold frame Ray-Ban aviator shades were my first high-end sunglasses purchase. To this day, I still wear them all the time. If you have never invested in a higher end pair of shades and want to do so, please look no further than this style. The color and shape will literally never go out of style! Once you add these to your collection, feel free to get addicted and add all the other fun (yet classic) shapes and colored lens styles to your collection. :) 

9. Kevin Aucoin Contour Palette 

This palette came into my life through a random Sephora binge through the sale section. It was one of those instances where I checked out online, the order total was much more than I had originally planned, and I felt like I made some bad impulse decisions. Happily, I was wrong. This palette has been my go-to ever since! The contour isn't too orangey and the highlighter isn't too over the top, so this makes for a great everyday look. I was not sold AT all by the eyeshadows while looking online, but when I got the palette, I gave them a shot and--you guys--they are amazing for creating a natural smokey eye (which you know I'm all about). For all of my shoots this fall/winter, my makeup looks have been created using this palette so I'll let that speak for itself. 

10. Black Leggings

I'm ending this list with something really basic, but I would be lying to you all if I left it off my essentials! Leggings! I wear them all the time, which is not a surprise, but I wanted to share my favorites for this one. Pictured above are mesh leggings by Alo which have been amazing for travel and weekend trips and everything in between. The mesh gives them a cool vibe, and that means you can easily wear them out as well as during the day! They are a bit pricey, so if you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with the classic Victoria's Secret PINK black legging. I have multiple pairs on hand and wear them at some point literally every day. 

That does it for my top ten essentials! Alternative titles for this post could have been "I Really Love to Wear Black" or "How to Pack Like a Pro for a Weekend Trip." But seriously, add just a couple other things to this list and you will have all you need for a laid-back weekend away. Plus, your S/O will be so impressed by your minimal and efficient packing skills. You're welcome. 

My Skin Care Routine | Beauty Bar

It's the season of New Year's resolutions once again--for better or worse! This year, I am focusing inward and resolving to be more vigilant and aware of my depression. 2016 taught me the lesson that depression doesn't just disappear; it's a beast in the brain that lives there permanently and must be tamed. Seasonal affective disorder can bring out this beast in everyone, so take care of yourself after the comedown from the holidays as we head into the long winter! Surely by now, you are saying to yourself "Wtf, Elise, where's the skincare?" Dear reader, I don't mean to disappoint you. Another beast that must be tamed especially in winter is dry skin. Getting into a good skincare routine is a great external resolution for 2017. Read on to see what works for me and get inspired to take better care of your best accessory--your skin! 

*SIDE NOTE: All of the following pictures are taken by me. All selfies are no make-up, and all of the product shots are no skill, haha. Enjoy :) 

Step 1: WASH OFF YOUR MAKEUP

 A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

I used to be HORRIBLE at washing off my makeup, especially during college. I would fall asleep still in heavy makeup and then wake up, and with a couple touch-ups, rock that second day makeup to class. This was bad for two reasons: first, it's terrible for your skin, and second, I wasn't confident enough to be barefaced around my then-bf or in public. It's a vicious cycle; if you let your skin stay dirty constantly, of course you aren't going to have the glowing, fresh skin that makes you feel confident to go bare. And, ladies, if you are dating a guy who makes you feel like you need to be in makeup 24/7, he doesn't deserve to have you staying over at his house. Long story short, wash your face; it may be a hard habit to get into but your skin will thank you. To wash my face I use Olay face wash and Garnier make-up removing wipes (as you will see through this post, I keep my face routine drug store and affordable for the most part). 

Step 2: Moisturize 

This step is important year-round, but winter is a time when moisturizer becomes even more essential. I moisturize my face twice a day. In the morning, I use Jergen's Natural Glow face lotion and the L'Oreal eye cream pictured above. At night I use a richer moisturizing formula, plus eye cream. Lately, I've been enjoying this L'Oreal night cream with added collagen. For me, I am hoping to prevent wrinkles by taking good care of my skin before they start. Since I do not need serious wrinkle repair, I just buy moisturizers from the drug store. It's affordable and gets the job done. Consistency is key--once you get into the habit of moisturizing your face, you will feel the difference and not want to go without lotion! Don't forget about the rest of your body as well. After every shower, I use Jergen's Natural Glow Firming Lotion

Step 3: Add-On Treatments 

Everyone's skin has its own unique set of issues. Luckily there are lots of products out there to help out your individual need! For me, my top three issues are puffy under eyes, spot acne and face hair.

I was always annoyed by my under eyes crinkling and puffing when I smiled in pictures, so two years ago I started using this roller ball formula by Garnier. It cools and tightens skin when rolled on, which feels great, plus it does fix under eye puff! I use it every morning and night. 

Luckily, acne has not been a big issue for me. Once I went on the Pill back in the day, all mass breakouts stopped. However, I still do get spot acne. About once a month, I'll have a gross spot on my face that requires action. That's where this Clean & Clear Advantage acne spot treatment comes in. I have been using this stuff since college and it is my holy grail. It really does work! I have also used it for body acne when I get a spot on my chest or thighs during sweaty summer runs. 

As I typed "face hair" as one of my skin problems, I laughed to myself at the visualization of having a beard. While the hair situation is great for my eyebrows, it's not so great having that excess peach fuzz that makes your makeup go on less smoothly and can even make you look like you have a mustache--yikes. So, long story short, I shave my face. And this is one of my best skin care tips! And NO the hair does not grow back faster or stubbly. The process is technically called dermaplaning. You use an eyebrow razor (the pink thing in the pic above) and carefully shave your face. Not only will you be amazed at how much downy fuzz comes off, but the process is also extremely exfoliating as the razor takes away the thin layer of dead skin on your face. Studies have shown that this exfoliation can prevent wrinkles and keep the skin looking fresher longer. Take my word for it, your skin will have a new glow and will feel soft and smooth as a newborn! I first learned of derma planing through Carli Bybel's YouTube channel. Click here to watch her how-to video on shaving your face! 

Step 4: Face Masks

 Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

It saddens me how long it took me to start using face masks. I feel like I missed out on an essential chapter of girl-hood. Until now. I bought the Peter Thomas Roth Meet Your Mask set this summer and I was instantly hooked. The set is a great way to start if you don't know where to start with masks. It's only $25 and you get to try six different masks. I went through two of these kits before I narrowed it down to my favorites. Now I love to use the Blue Algae for hydration, the 24K Gold for a gorgeous lift and glow and the Pumpkin Enzyme for exfoliation. I usually put on a mask every evening. The pumpkin enzyme is perfect to follow a demaplane treatment for that extra level of exfoliation! For a more affordable mask option, the L'Oreal clay mud masks are actually very good and available at drugstores. Not only do masks make your skin feel amazing, they also make you feel very glamorous ;) I encourage you to give them a try!

Step 5: HYDRATE

Hydrate should have been step one. This is the most important thing you can do for your body and your skin. Drinking enough water, like washing off my makeup every night, was a conscious choice I made for myself a few years ago and I have been sticking to it. Obviously, water is key. I like to keep a big water bottle full with me at all times. It's easier to drink more water that way as opposed to a glass which you have to fill up all the time. I love my S'Well water bottle because it holds lots of water, keeps it cold and looks cute! 

Coconut water is a hydration game changer. I read an interview with Adriana Lima in which she swore drinking coconut water daily has made her skin as gorgeous as it is. With a reference like that, I had to try it. It might be in my head, but I do notice more of a glow when I drink a glass of coconut water daily. Hard evidence for coconut water is its unfailing ability to make me feel better if I have a touch of a hangover! I recommend Vita Coco coconut water; it is all natural with no additives. Whatever brand you buy, make sure it has no added sugar! 

This may all sound like a lot of steps and products, but once you get into the routine of taking better care of your skin, it will become second nature. Plus, I guarantee you will thank yourself for investing in yourself as you feel more hydrated and healthy and more confident and beautiful fresh faced! If you enjoyed this post for external New Years resolutions, check out my feature post on myrisestory.com which features self-reflection and inspiration to make those internal resolutions come true as well. :)

Beauty Bar | Fall Nail Colors

I'm definitely not alone in my love of changing my nail color to fit the seasons. Here's a quick round-up of what I'll be on my rotation this season. 

Lubu Heels - China Glaze

 Image: Amazon.com

Image: Amazon.com

I love black nail polish during winter. Lubu Heels by China Glaze is a black polish with a twist. From a distance, the color looks like a simple black, but in the sunlight you can see tiny flecks of red glitter. It is also very affordable! Get it here on Amazon. 

Gray Matter - Formula X|Sephora

 Image: Sephora.com

Image: Sephora.com

This has been my go-to fall shade for the past year. Sephora's Formula X polishes are my favorite--they are creamy, quick-drying and very pigmented so you don't have to use many coats. Gray Matter is a perfect matte gray that looks chic with any fall look. Shop it and all 100+ shades now at Sephora

Double Down - Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy

 Image: Walmart.com

Image: Walmart.com

I don't usually use metallic shades on my nails, but when the holidays come up I am drawn to the more shimmery shades. I love this copper because it is understated yet still lends you a touch of shine. It's a unique choice from the standard gold or silver and is affordable to experiment with from Walmart

London Court - NAILS INC.

 Image: Sephora.com

Image: Sephora.com

This year I am getting into the muted pastel trend--anything with "dusty (insert color here)" in the description has my attention. Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo named their daughter Dusty Rose in homage of this beautiful color, need I say more? Since this tone is muted and warm, it won't wash out paler winter skin tones. Check it out here

Now and Zen - Essie

 Image: Target.com

Image: Target.com

It's hard to tell from this picture, but Essie's Now and Zen light cement-gray shade has a sage-green tint to it. This is perfect for winter if you don't want to go full into the forest-green polish trend and love a neutral nail. Check it out at Target

Pastorale - NARS

 Image: Saks Fifth Avenue 

Image: Saks Fifth Avenue 

If you've taken even a perfunctory read of my blog, you know I love a trans-seasonal piece. The same holds true with a trans-seasonal polish. Pastorale by NARS can glimmer by the lights of your holiday party just as well as being your toes-in-the-sand color for the summer. It's a little pricier, but you'll use it year-round. 

Dark Forest Green - Burberry 

 Image: Saks Fifth Avenue

Image: Saks Fifth Avenue

Green nail polish is a major trend this year. All shades of forest, khaki and even bolder green tones are popping up everywhere. Personally, I prefer a very subdued version of this trend. If I am wearing green on my nails, I want the color to be just right. I love this elegant deep forest color by Burberry. The green is not jarring but still makes a statement. It doesn't hurt that the packaging is just as lovely as the color! 

I realize in making this list that I left off the essential red nail! However, I feel like everyone has a favorite red that is tried and true for them. I love Really Red by Essie, but I am always open to finding that perfect red. What nail colors are you crushing on this season? Let me know if I missed something amazing. :)