My Best Beauty Buys of 2019

The Best Beauty Buys of 2019

Looking presentable is part of my job, but having a professional hair and makeup team on hand is not part of my budget. Whether I’m getting ready for an event, a photo shoot, or simply getting ready for the day, it’s me, in my bathroom, begging my children to leave me alone for just five minutes.

I’m not a beauty expert (and have no interest in becoming one), but I do try a TON of products and tools during the year. I buy everything with my own money and have never done a review or made a recommendation in exchange for any kind of compensation.

That means when I say I like something, you can trust that I do.

And my requirements are high. First and foremost, it has to work. It has to save me time, or in some way, make my life easier. Much like yesterday’s Best Buys of 2019 post, I have to be delighted that I bought it every time I use it.

The Best Beauty Buys of 2019

Things you should know: 

My skin is normal, but sensitive. I burn just looking at the sun. I used to deal with pretty severe acne in my early to mid thirties, but have cleared it up amazingly with proper skincare and drinking a ton of water every day. 

When it comes to products, I am incredibly loyal. That’s one of the reasons I don’t write regular beauty content. There’s not a lot to talk about, since once I like something, it stays in rotation for a long time. 

Over the years, my skincare philosophy has gone from focusing on makeup and covering things up, to taking the best care possible of my skin. I put the time and money into that, and the benefit (aside from glowy natural skin) is needing less makeup and spending less time getting ready.

I take my nighttime skin care routine most seriously, as you can see in the post from earlier this year. Some people loved it, some thought I was nuts. It actually doesn’t take long to do, and it’s a lovely way to get ready for bed. Most important, since my skin has healed from the acne I feel a million times more confident, and I don’t think you can put a price on that. 

Favorite Products

Vintners Daughter is still my most favorite product of all time. It transformed my skin. The Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial is a close second and I wouldn’t be able to pick between the two since I think using them together is the holy grail of skincare. 

I am also still obsessed with my dermaroller and recently upgraded to this one. I use it several times a week, depending on what else I’m doing to my skin.

This year I found some real winners, so let’s jump in. 

My Best Beauty Buys of 2019

The Best Beauty Buys of 2019RMS Signature Palette, $44  |  Ice Roller, $15  |  Juice Beauty Overnight Cream, $75  |  Wander Beauty Mascara, $26  |  Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede, $60  |  Almond Oil, $50  |  Hanacure Facial Set, $29  |  T-3 Curling Iron, $136  |  Tyme Iron, $165 

RMS Signature Palette

This pocket size palette is ideal for an on-the-go, five minute face. It includes a bronzer, highlighter, two lip and cheek stains and a balm.  I love it so much I bought two, so I always have one in my makeup drawer and one to float around in my handbags. The colors give just enough pigment, that you can layer, in hues (I use the palette called “Pop”) which is a classic color, for warmer tones go with Mod (pictured above).

Shop: Pop / Mod

Ice Roller 

I’ve mentioned this ice roller a few times this year. It was a middle of the night purchase made in between feeding the baby and trying to sleep. I still can’t believe how much I use it. It’s perfect for the morning after a late night, maybe you overindulged or watched a sad movie and had a good cry. If you’re puffy or red, roll this over your entire face, and it will wake you up and depuff instantly. 

I’ll even use it after my morning routine, before I put on makeup. The cold tightness your skin, and makes your products glide on flawlessly. 

Shop: Assorted Colors 

Juice Beauty Overnight Cream

For a while, I was using Goop’s night cream, and it was just okay – not worth the price. Then I used Estee Lauder’s Night cream and liked that very much. But when I read about Juice Beauty’s Cell Renewal Night Cream, I decided to give it a try.
It’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients, like Hyaluronic Acid, and helps cell turnover and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In the winter, I prefer a thick night cream since it’s cold outside, but my house is dry and I notice how the change of temperature almost immediately affects my skin. I can see a difference in my skin’s moisture and texture in the morning after I slather this on at night.

Shop: One jar last approx. 2 – 3 months with daily use 

Wander Beauty Mascara

Early this fall, my social feed was flooded with ads for Wander Beauty, and after a while, I couldn’t resist. (I am clearly their target market.) Admittedly, I have a drawer full of mascaras, yet still always on the hunt for the next great one. This one by Wander Beauty hits it out of the park. It lengthens, it’s smooth, doesn’t clump, and doesn’t leave a dusty residue on your face.

Shop: Mile High Volume Mascara

Jo Malone Fragrance

For the longest time, my go-to fragrance was Flowerbomb by Viktor&Rolf, and it remains an all time favorite. But Jo Malone has always been one of those aspirational brands, with their chic packaging and exotic fragrance combinations. So while I was in NYC a few months back, I splurged on Peony and Blush Suede, and it’s stunning. It’s a similar scent to Flowerbomb, less sweet, and a little more sophisticated. I get nonstop compliments on it, with everyone saying it smells uniquely fresh and feminine.

Shop: Travel size, currently 15% off

Almond Body Oil

Body oil absorbs into your skin better than lotion, so I went on the hunt for an effective, daily oil that didn’t leave a slick residue. After trying a few, I discovered this Almond Body Oil by L’Occitane. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It dries quickly, doesn’t leave a mark on your clothes, and smells clean without being overpowering. The key is to put it on damp skin right after your shower, so you lock in as much moisture as possible.

Shop: Supple Skin Oil

Hanacure Facial Set

This all in one, at home facial, claims to fix everything with regular use – from dullness, and wrinkles, to fine lines and age spots. That’s such a tall order I almost didn’t buy it. But out of curiosity disguised as research, I bought the all-in-one set, which includes four treatments.

I used all of them, and I’m telling you, your skin does look amazing when you’re finished. Whether I see a long term, lasting difference is yet to be determined.

BUT! I used a treatment before a few parties and photoshoots, and my skin looked fantastic for those events, so I’m keeping a stock of them for that very reason, and if my skin improves over time, even better.

Shop: Starter Set (One Application) / Kit (Four Applications)

T3 Curling Iron

This is my second T3 Curling iron. I bought my first one several years ago and only replaced it because I left the first one in a hotel.

It’s fantastic. My hair is flat and straight, but I like to wear it with curl. This lets me get a gorgeous barrel curl, around my entire head, in less the five minutes. 

Be sure to use it on dry hair and spray on a heat protector, because this gets hot. To give the curl lasting hold, I let it cool completely in my hand once it comes off the barrel, and then I leave it. I don’t run a comb or brush through it. Eventually it falls and gives me the natural wave I’m looking for. 

Shop: T3 Curling Iron

Thyme Iron

Yes, I bought two rather expensive curling iron tools this year. I actually bought them within a few days of each other and I ended up loving them both equally. The Thyme Iron is different than the T3. You’ll get a lot more volume and a different kind of curl. I use the T3 to get my everyday style, parted to the side, with a soft curl.

The Thyme Iron can be used in several different ways, but I use it for a more dramatic look. It takes some time to get the hang of how to use it, but the company does a fantastic job creating how-to videos and tutorials. Once you get the hang of it, the process moves fast.

The real benefit is how long the curls last. If you do it the right way (and depending on how frequently you need to wash your hair), you can get a full day and then next out of one style.

Shop: The Thyme Iron (be sure to purchase from Thyme and not one of the knock offs.) 

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019: Best of Beauty

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019: Beauty Picks

We are wrapping up our Nordstrom Anniversary Sale coverage with a quick beauty post. As long-time readers know, I am incredibly loyal to my products and beauty tools. It took me a long time to find a skincare routine that works for me. It’s extensive but effective, so why mess with it? That’s why we don’t feature a ton of beauty content. 

Anyway, I’d also like to move on and talk about other things, so this is our last post about the sale. I’ll update our Facebook Private Page with some specific deals over the next few days, so if you’d like to join just click here and answer our three membership questions.

But back to the sale. Many of the beauty items in the event are fragrance related, be it perfume, candles or diffusers so check and see if your favorite is on sale. There are also a lot of gadgets and tools, some are helpful, but many aren’t necessary (more on that below). And if you love luxury brand makeup, there are a few that are a decent value.

My advice, though, is to make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need.   For example, most of the perfume exclusives come in a gorgeous box, with an extra body wash or cream. I don’t ever use them, so I don’t find much value in the set.

Today, I sorted through all the options and narrowed our list down the products I love and use, that are worth the spend or splurge. 

Once again, this post is not sponsored but if you make a purchase from one of our links we may receive a very small commission. 

Top Beauty Picks from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019 


Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019: Beauty Picks

Living Proof Trio, $84  |  Mario Badescu Set, $23  |  Alterna Caviar Set, $72  |  Philosophy Set, $55  |  T3 Curling Iron, $107   |  Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Duo, $25  |  Slip Pillowcases, $119


Two haircare sets made my list. First, I have loved Living Proof for a long time. This full-size set featuring the brand’s hero products is a nice value. Their dry shampoo is the best on the market, and their shampoo and conditioner make my hair look full and shiny after one use. 

I also included Alterna Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, another brand I’ve been loyal to for years. Between aging and processing my hair to an inch of its life, this set helps bring it back to life and gives it the surge of moisture it is desperately lacking.

They both have a steep price point but they last a while since my kids aren’t allowed near them. I alternate between the two depending on what my hair needs. 

Hair Tools

Part of the reason I need a powerful conditioner is due to the heat I use to style my hair most days. I bought this T3 Curling Iron to replace my old T3. The first one lasted a little over 2 years, with lots of daily use so I feel ok replacing it now. It cuts my styling time in half and the curls last longer than with a drugstore brand curling irons. 

If you are in the market for a new hair dryer, I also highly recommend T3.  Their Cura Dryer is part of the sale for $155

Little Luxuries and Gifts

I’ve been sleeping on a silk pillowcase for a few years, and guess what? It’s still one of my all-time favorite, most-used purchases. There are lots of benefits, from helping to keep hair from breaking to preventing wrinkles. But I just like that it feels a little indulgent. After working all day, wrangling three kids, and running our home, I think I deserve every little luxury I can get. Pick one up for yourself, or save one to give to your mom, sister, or favorite friend this holiday. 

This Philosophy Amazing Grace set for $55 is another stock up for the holiday’s option. I picked one up to put under the tree for my oldest. (And yes, I am super impressed that I am already planning Christmas gifts.) 


In the skincare category, Mario Badescu’s drying lotion destroys breakouts. I use to have terrible cystic acne for years, and a few drops of this right on the inflamed part of the pimple would remove it in a day or two. Next, his aloe and rosewater spray would help with inflammation, reduce redness, and cool down my skin.  I keep them both on hand still and will be happy I have them if and when my girls start to experience their first breakouts. 

Makeup Must Have 

Next, who doesn’t love a good eyebrow? When I really want to kick up my look, I use the Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow duo. It helps you create a strong brow in minutes and gives your whole face more definition. 

Finally, a few honorable mentions in makeup. Nars has a pretty blush/bronzer/highlighter kit for $42.  Laura Mercier’s Lip Duo in rose is a lovely neutral for every day. And for fun, I picked up this Trish McEvoy Brighten and Define Eye Duo – I’ll report back my findings if it’s worth it. 

Hydrate, Protect, Prime, and Cover Your Skin with A Single Product

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

Just last week, I ran out of my full-coverage foundation and Suntegrity’s Moisturizing Face Sunscreen on the same day. I knew I wanted to reorder the sunscreen, but I wasn’t thrilled about the foundation I was using, so I was open to new ideas. 

(You can read my full, gushing review on the Moisturizing Sunscreen here.)

During my last pregnancy, I experienced some hyperpigmentation, so I clung to that full-coverage makeup. Pregnancy hormones are cruel! I’ve worn full-coverage foundation for as long as I can remember; I started in my teens, when my gorgeous youthful skin definitely did not need to be covered up.

But I’ve been working hard on evening out my skin tone, with help from SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, and have seen a big improvement in the last couple of months. So when I saw that Suntegrity has a tinted version of my Sunscreen I thought I would give it a shot. This felt super risky for me and I was skeptical that my mid-30s skin would look better with less makeup. 

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Tinted Natural Moisturizing Face SunscreenBut wow, what a difference it made! My skin looks so much better with less makeup, which is absolutely not what I expected. The tint is generous, so combined with my concealer, my skin has a nice, even tone.

However, it’s sheer enough that my skin looks real. It doesn’t have that cakey or airbrushed look and some of my freckles peek out. I chose the “light” tint, which they said is for “skin tones similar to Angelina Jolie, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Katie Holmes, and Carrie Underwood.”  Twinsies!

Also, don’t forget the broad-spectrum mineral filters that protect you from harmful UVA and UVB rays with SPF 30. 

It does look quite dewy, which is not my preferred look, especially in the office. I add a few light swipes of Laura Geller’s Balance-N-Brighten on top. You could use any finishing powder of your choice, like the magnificent Laura Mercier Translucent Powder.

I suppose I’m cheating a bit because the Balance-N-Brighten also has some color to it, but I use a very light hand with it.

What’s so great is that with Suntegrity’s 5 in 1 tinted Moisturizing Sunscreen, I am eliminating several steps in my makeup routine. The tinted 5-in-1 renews, hydrates, protects, primes, and covers the skin all in one product. Also, it has an excellent rating in Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Safety Database, which is something to be celebrated.

I have not yet found natural or organic replacements for all of my beauty products, but I am happy to shout from the rooftops when I do.

Our readers loved Suntegrity’s non-tinted sunscreen option that I shared last summer. So much so that it was one of the Readers’ Favorites for that month. I have a hunch that you will all love this tinted version just as much – if not more! 


The Beauty Tools I Can’t Live Without

The Beauty Tools I Can’t Live Without

It seems like every day there is a new “must have” beauty tool that will “change your life.” I’ve tried them all, partially so I can be informed, but mostly because I think it’s fun. 

The truth is, when it comes to our wardrobes and our beauty routines we don’t need dozens of products and tools. Instead, we need a few well made, useful products.

Recently I did a purge of every drawer and cabinet of my bathroom.  I got rid of all the rarely used lotions, everything that had expired, the countless bottles of half used self-tanner I accumulated in my search for the best one, a basket full of free samples and anything else I didn’t love.

What I was left with is a streamlined, well-edited line up of the best of the best. 

Last month, I shared my night time skincare routine. It’s a little involved but it works for me, and my skin has never looked better.

A Peek at My Night Time Routine on Instagram


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Because I spend so much time caring for my skin at night, my morning routine is straightforward. I use the same oil cleanser to quickly wash my face, followed by Vintner’s Daughter Serum, Caudalie moisturizer with SPF and a small dap of eye cream by Dr. Barbara Sturm (expensive but will last a full year).

I realized as I finished sorting through my products and writing out my evening ritual that there were just four tools I use in both my skincare and makeup routines that make a significant difference.

What’s great is that aside from the fact that they are effective, they are also easy to use and affordable. 

The Beauty Tools I Can’t Live Without

The Beauty Tools I Can’t Live Without

Microneedle Derma Roller

A microneedle is suppose to “exfoliate your skin and help plump and diminish fine lines and wrinkles.” That’s a bold promise we hear ALL THE TIME, but this gizmo really delivers.

I’ve used it every day for years and I see the most significant difference around my eyes.  My skin is noticeably smoother, with less crows feet, and a few acne scars have faded. 

It also helps your skin better absorb products. For example, I take a tiny bit of Vintner’s Daughter ( 4 drops) and apply it to my skin. Next, I use the microneedle as directed: working in small sections rolling vertically, horizontally then diagonally across my skin.

It pinches a little but no big deal. Once you’ve covered the surface of your face, apply a regular amount of serum – about 8 drops to your skin, and gently press in.  The roller helps the skin drink in the serum for maximum benefit. 

Since this post was first published, I switched to this microneedle kit by Love & Pebble available on Amazon. It’s under $25, and comes with 4 replacement heads, so it’s a fantastic value and allows you to easily keep the tool sanitized. 

Related: The $25 Microneedle Derma Roller We Love 

Jade roller

I have three kids, a full time job, a husband who frequently travels for work and no nanny.  Right now, I’m getting minimal sleep. So I’m T.I.R.E.D.  But looking tired is not an option on most days.

I use this jade roller almost every morning. I roll it around my eyes to help reduce inflammation and puffiness. It’s like giving your face a massage, it gets the blood flowing .

Don’t spend here. There are some on the market for $50 – $100.  Mine was about $10 and does the job – you can pick them up on Amazon, just make sure it’s real jade. 


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Beauty Blender

The trick to smooth and well-blended makeup is the Beauty Blender. There are many knock-offs out there, but the original is still the best. It washes better and lasts longer than the lower-priced alternative.

To use, pour a drop of foundation on the top of your hand and dab with a damp beauty blender. Then, working from your nose outward lightly press, or “bounce” onto your skin.

You’ll notice you’ll use less product and get better coverage, making it ideal for fresh and healthy looking makeup. 

You can also use beauty blenders with powders as well.  And, like the name says, it’s the best for finishing your look by blending around your hairline, cheekbones and where your jawline meets your neck. 

Tip! Don’t throw out the container it comes in, use it to store it so it stays clean in your make up bag or sitting on your counter. 

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler

Finally, I’ve tried a dozen eyelash curlers over the years, from the free to the cheap to the super expensive and I always end up going back to Shu Uemura. This lash curler is durable, reasonably priced and, most important, easy to use.
What makes this one “the best” is that it fits all eye shapes so you can get all the lashes inside the clasp at once. It has a nice weight which makes it comfortable to use, and you get a natural bend to your lashes. 

It’s an easier way to get bright eyes and dramatic lashes without the time and expense of extensions. 

Related: My Favorite Beauty Buys of 2019 


Our content is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers in any way. Recommendations are based on personal experience and my time working with women as a stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission. All items have been personally purchased by me. 

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My Favorite Beauty Buys of 2018

My Favorite Beauty Buys of 2018
My Favorite Beauty Buys of 2018

At the end of every year, I like to share some of my favorite beauty products. I try new things all year long and also stay loyal to the products that give me the best results.  As I’ve gotten closer to 40, I’ve paid attention to quality products filled with good for you ingredients.  For the most part, I tend to spend on skincare, and expect them to perform.

This year I discovered a few new products and gadgets that have earned a permanent spot in my medicine cabinet. Since I’m going to end the year a little bit early  (we are a bit over three weeks away from my official maternity leave!) I’m sharing those products, and some old favorites, today.

Exfoliating Instant Facial, $125  |  Vinter’s Daughter, $180  |  Silk Pillowcase, $119  |  Camellia Cleansing Oil, $48  |  Jade Roller, $25  |  Eye Shadow Palette, $20  |  Micro Roller, $30  |  Dr. Barbara Sturm Eye Cream, $140  |  Salt Scalp Scrub, $42

1. & 2. Exfoliating Instant Facial, $125 and Vinter’s Daughter, $180 are not new discoveries, I’ve been using them religiously for over a year.  They are worth mentioning because I think they make the biggest difference in my skin.

The goop Instant Facial is a lovely, few times a week exfoliate that leaves your skin fresh and glowing.   I see a noticeable difference in the texture of my skin after using it for close to two years.

Vinter’s Daughter is the greatest face product I have every used, ever in my life.  I use it twice a day, and panic if I start to run low.  I once spilt a third of the bottle on the bathroom counter in an hotel room and screamed as I watched the liquid gold run down the drain.

It’s changed my skin entirely.  I don’t have nearly as many breakouts, the redness I use to have around my nose and checks is gone, the wrinkles around my eyes have soften and my skin texture just looks more healthy.

3. Silk Pillowcase, $119. I though this was going to be a ridiculous purchase but I absolutely love it.  The silk helps prevent wrinkles, keeps your hair healthy and is cooling at night – especially helpful since I’ve been running so warm this pregnancy.

Plus, it just feels luxurious, which is nice when your life is not luxurious at all.  I like it so much I have a new one packed in my hospital bag.

4.  Camellia Cleansing Oil, $48 was a middle of the night, QVC purchase that turned out to be delightful. I’ve been trying different cleansing oils since my skin is so sensitive but found many of them to be too drying.

Not this oil from Tatcha, it’s rich and light at the same time.  It removes even the most stubborn waterproof mascara with out any pulling and tugging and leaves your skin fresh and clean.

5. Jade Roller, $25. This inexpensive Jade Roller lives in my bedside drawer.  I use it every night before I put on night cream to give my skin a soothing, quick massage.  It helps cool your skin and helps keep the blood flowing to your face.

6. Eye Shadow Palette, $20.  The Honest Company’s $20 eye shadow palette is fabulous.  You don’t need to spend a fortune for clean make up.  Each color has rich pigment and stays all day.  I picked one up for my oldest who is getting super into playing with make up as a stocking stuffer too.

7. Micro Roller, $30.  This little gizmo is a game changer.  I use it twice a day to plump my skin and help it absorb product.  First, I wash my face, then I take a few drops of Vintner’s Daughter and apply it all over my skin, next take the roller and run it over your face, in sections going up and down, and then across.

Once you’re done, apply some more oil and let it set.  The only time I don’t use it is if I applied the instant facial, since that is also exfoliating.

8. Dr. Barbara Sturm Eye Cream, $140. I’ve tried dozens of eye creams over the years and this one is the best. It’s rich but absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel tacky.  I apply it morning and night and over the last few months have notice a difference in the puffiness around my eyes and general smoothness of my skin.  It’s expensive, but lasts since you only need a little at a time.

9. Salt Scalp Scrub, $42. Do you need this? No.  Do I LOVE it? Yes.  I just scrapped the bottom of my first jar for one last use and quickly reordered it.  It takes some getting use to since it’s not a traditional shampoo, and you don’t use it everyday.  I use it once or twice a week. You literally scrub your scalp with it and it helps remove all the build up from daily product and pollutants

When you get out of the shower, you feel so fresh and clean it’s crazy.  Like you just went to the spa.  It’s a lovely pick me up, or gift for your favorite girlfriend.