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August 2015 | Favorites

Hi friends! Here’s a quick rundown of the beauty products, fashion finds, and other various awesomeness I’ve been digging lately. In no particular order:

Marc Jacobs Mod Noir Rollerball

$28 at

I am OBSESSED with this scent. It’s fresh and crisp and perfect for these hot final days of summer -- and will ease the transition into fall. Sephora’s website says that its “airy floral fragrance opens with a field of lush, dewy greens, which give way to freshly cut gardenias floating atop sparkling water.” Yep. Nailed it.


Sephora To-Go App

Free for iPhone and Android.

Speaking of Sephora, I’m a big fan of their app. Yes, it makes it incredibly easy to shop and find inspiration. But here’s why I added it to this list -- it stores all of your purchases associated with your Beauty Insider account. Like, all of them. Mine go back to 2011, whether they were purchased via the app, online or in-store. And not just the product, the shade too. So when I found myself near a store and remembered that I was low on my fave foundation but couldn’t recall the color, the app was there to rescue me. Thanks Sephora!


Being a rulebreaker outside of The Last Bookstore in LA. Dress from Madewell. Similar cut available here for $138.

Let me tell you about the serious work this dress put in a few weeks back. On a 90-something-degree Friday, this dress endured at 10:30 am flight from San Jose to Los Angeles, an outdoor BBQ lunch (risky, I know), a wander through the streets of downtown LA, a chic happy hour in West Hollywood, an al fresco dinner in Silver Lake, and late night beers in Sherman Oaks. Not only did this (white!!!) dress survive all of this, but it managed to look cool and clean and appropriate for each setting. My only regret is that I didn’t purchase five of these bad boys when they were available.

Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Pure-Castile Liquid Soap - 2 oz.

$2 at

Gosh I love this stuff. It’s just delicious...lightweight and non-drying, and the scent is so soft and relaxing. This has been a total mainstay in my toiletry bag as of late. A little goes a long way, which helps it to last through several days of travel. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it would also do quite well in the bath.

Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Palette in The Blushed Nudes

$10 at

If you saw my “Quick & Natural Drugstore Makeup Tutorial,” you already know how I feel about this little palette. The hues may appear almost too vibrant in the photo, but don’t worry -- the shades are actually quite versatile and buildable, and range from sheer subtle options to those with a bit more punch. It’s the perfect palette for creating a lovely and natural look, as well as fun styles for a girls’ night out. All for ten bucks. Boom.

What have you been loving this month?

- Kristen



Quick & Natural Drugstore Makeup Tutorial

You all know how I feel about the transformative powers of makeup. But whether it’s due to these hot, sticky summer days or just a lack of patience in the morning, lately I’ve been in the mood for a more low-key look.

After a bit of experimenting, I think I’ve nailed my ideal, easy breezy makeup routine. The best part of all? It only includes drugstore products, including the latest eye palette from Maybelline, the Expert Wear Eyeshadow Palette in The Blushed Nudes.

Check out the tutorial, as well as further details about the products I used, below!

Products Featured:

  • e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer in Clear, $5.79 at

  • e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer in Sheer, $2 at

  • Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream in Medium/Deep and Deep, $6.29 each at

  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Cafe and Deep, $4.19 each at

  • e.l.f. High Definition Powder in Translucent, $6 at

  • e.l.f. Blush Palette in Dark, $6 at

  • Maybelline Expert Wear Eyeshadow Palette in The Blushed Nudes, $10 at

  • e.l.f. Waterproof Eyeliner in Coffee, $2 at Target (weirdly not available online!)

  • Maybelline Great Lash Lots Of Lashes Mascara in Blackest Black, $3.79 at

  • COVERGIRL Brow & Eye Makers Pencil in Midnight Brown, $4 at

  • Maybelline Eyestudio Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Deep Brown, $7 at

  • Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm in Ripe Raspberry, $8 at

 What are your go-to natural makeup/drugstore products?

- Kristen



Late-Summer Fashion/Beauty Check-Up

How did it get to be mid-August already???

Even though the kids are heading back to school (thanks for the extra traffic, kiddies), and the one-pound September issues are starting to hit store shelves, we still have several weeks of summer left. And the last weeks are often the hottest yet.

That’s why now is the perfect time for a quick fashion and beauty check-up. Lucky for you, we’ve developed a quick list to diagnose the most common symptoms that tend to arrive during these dog days of summer.


Stuck in a Clothing Rut? -- No, I’m not suggesting that you ought to buy additional summer wear for the last weeks of the season. Now is just a good time to take stock of what you’ve been putting on lately. Has that striped maxi dress that you bought for the beach become a regular (and overly-casual) staple of your work wardrobe?

Reconsider the pieces that you haven’t worn lately, and think about working them into the rotation. For instance, is there a summery dress/skirt/shoe that you’ve been waiting for the perfect occasion to wear? Stop waiting and wear it already! Also, if there’s a warm-weather item you haven’t worn yet and likely won’t, consider taking it to a consignment shop or donating it to Goodwill. It’s never too early to start making room for shiny new autumn attire.

Show Your Shoes a Little TLC -- Those well-loved sandals you’ve been rocking all season? When is the last time you stopped the check whether the little nubs at the bottom of the heel haven’t worn down to the nailhead? Or that the little straps across your toes aren’t starting to give way?

Take a minute to give them a once-over. And if they’re in need of a little love in return, rush them to your trusty cobbler. Don’t let this happen to you:


Keep Warm -- Sure, it may be pushing 90 outside. But your office, if it’s like most offices, probably feels a bit more like the inside of a Frigidaire. If you think that your company-issued hoodie/fleece doesn’t quite go with your outfits (wait, is that just a Silicon Valley thing?), consider purchasing a versatile sweater and/or blazer or two to keep your shoulders toasty during office hours. Bonus? You can easily work these items out of the office too once things turn crisp in the fall.


Does Your Makeup Match Your Summer Skin? -- Whether you’ve spent a fair amount of time in the sun, or have hit your ideal self-tanner shade, there’s a good chance your skin color is a bit different now than it will be come February. How to tell if your makeup is still the right shade? Head out into natural light with a compact (or a friend you trust). Are your face and neck two different colors? If so, try the next shade up. If it’s available at Sephora, feel free to stop in first for a free sample of a darker version. Just note that your ideal color might also be a blend of the two shades.

The two of us and a bunch of friends at brunch, being the United Colors of Benetton as usual

Has Your SPF Expired? -- Yup, this is a thing. Just ask the Mayo Clinic. Not all sunscreens have an expiration date, but if the bottle you are reaching for is more than three years old, chuck it and buy a new one.

Do a Quick Tip-to-Toe Scan -- Summer can wreak havoc on your body in a myriad of ways. Is your hair dry, or are the ends split? Is your skin dehydrated? Feet in need of a spa day? Take care of it now, before the damage gets too far gone.

Enjoy the rest of summer while it’s still here! And if there’s something left on your warm weather to-do list, put a plan in place and make it happen.

- Kristen + MK



The Art of Day-Tripping

It’s so easy to get stuck in a weekend rut of familiar nearby places and activities. Most of us love to explore when we travel, but when we’re at home, we often stick close to it.

MK, our friend Maureen and I decided to start doing a bit of backyard tourism. Every few weeks we pick a location within an hour or so from Mountain View, California, and we go exploring.

We’ve developed a pretty awesome rhythm for these day trips -- awesome enough that I think it’s worth sharing. Here are the elements we typically incorporate into each perfect day, and how we put them into practice during a recent visit to Santa Cruz, that quintessential NorCal beach town.

But First, Brunch

We begin compiling ideas in the week leading up to the day trip, largely courtesy of Yelp and friends familiar with the area. This always begins with a good local breakfast spot.

For our trip to Santa Cruz, Maureen’s friends pointed us in the direction of Cafe Brasil. The atmosphere is warm, friendly and colorful, and the food is delicious Brazilian fare. To avoid the well-earned wait, get there by 9:30. There is something for everyone on the extensive menu. We all tried one of those trendy acai bowls for the first time -- definitely worth the hype. Imagine a breakfast sundae. Yeah, it’s that good.

Caffeine Please

Finding a local coffee shop has become a day trip tradition. Verve Coffee Roasters, the chosen spot for our latest trip, has three locations in Santa Cruz and one in L.A. Their downtown cafe provided a charming and tasty boost to our exploration of the shops and sights in the area.

Maureen, Me, MK

Spend a Little Time in the Great Outdoors

Whether it’s a park, a garden or a beach, most of our trips involve a bit of outdoor time (this is California, after all). Given that we’d all been to Santa Cruz previously and had already visited its famous boardwalk, we decided to spend our afternoon at Twin Lakes Beach.

Even though it was a gorgeous day, and there was a fair amount of expected traffic on the way to the beach, the beach itself wasn’t overcrowded -- there was plenty of space for us to grab a spot of sand among the picnic-goers, boogie-boarders, sand castle-builders and volleyball players.

Don’t forget the SPF! Oh, and MK shared a pro tip with us for removing the sand from your feet après-beach -- sprinkle a bit of baby powder on the sandy area, and it easily wipes right off. Boom. Of course, if you have darker skin like me, you should use a baby wipe or apply a bit of lotion afterward so you don’t walk around looking like Casper.

Get Thee to a Brewery

If coffee is our morning tradition, beer is our afternoon ritual. There are several breweries in and around Santa Cruz (learn more about the Santa Cruz beer trail here), but Seabright Brewery offered the perfect combination of awesome local beer, crave-worthy pub food (you have to try the fries) and a great location. The outdoor patio is also dog-friendly, if you have a pup in tow. The staff was incredibly friendly as well, which further enhanced the experience.

Revisit Your Youth

Both our visits to Santa Cruz and Berkeley took us within close proximity of incredible colleges with fantastic campuses, and we couldn’t help but to wander through them. There’s something so nostalgic about being back in a collegiate setting. UC Santa Cruz is also nestled amidst amazing redwoods (like the ones pictured above), and we just had to stop and marvel at their grandeur.

On our brief stroll through the campus, we spotted a deer and her three fawns, tried our hands at naming the countries tied to each of the flags waving around the international relations building, and had an impromptu karaoke session in an empty dining hall where the cleaning crew blasted Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (much to the delight of the crew).

The great thing about these day trips? They’re highly customizable to fit the interests and budgets of you and your travel companions. You also get to sleep in your own bed at the end of your very full day. Bonus.

- Kristen


July 2015 | Favorites

Hi friends! Here’s a quick rundown of the beauty products, fashion finds, and other various awesomeness I’ve been digging lately. In no particular order:

Spotify “Discover Weekly”


You know that friend that always has the BEST music recommendations? The songs you've never heard from artists you've never heard of, but instantly love? Spotify's new feature released in July, “Discover Weekly,” is the digital answer to that awesome friend (the crazy thing? that’s exactly how they describe the new feature in their press release. Guess it’s the PR person in me).

Every Monday they update a “Discover Weekly” playlist designed just for you, based on the songs that you and similar music lovers have been into lately. I’ve already saved tons of songs they’ve recommended to my own playlists. It’s made me an even bigger Spotify fan than I was before (sorry T. Swift).

Urban Decay “Naked Smoky” Eyeshadow Palette


If you watched my latest tutorial, you already know that I’m a colossal fan of Urban Decay’s genius new addition to their eyeshadow palette collection, “Naked Smoky.” I brought the palette along with me on a trip to Las Vegas last weekend, and it was the perfect cosmetic companion. There are plenty of subtle shades for daytime, and numerous shades to create a variety of fun evening looks. And thanks to that  awesome Urban Decay quality, the formulas stood up to both the relentless Vegas sun, and hours of leaving it all on the dancefloor. #Win.

Sonia Kashuk® Block Print Valet

$30, Target

Speaking of my recent weekend in Vegas, the second half of 2015 will be chock-a-block of travel for me. That’s why while my Sonia Kashuk travel valet isn’t a brand new purchase, I’m appreciating it even more lately.

The pockets easily fit all of the travel-sized (and a few full size) toiletries I bring on my trips. The compartments are also attached with velcro, so I can pull them off and pop them on the countertop if I like. The hanger makes it incredibly easy to pull the valet from my suitcase and just pop it onto the back of the bathroom door, keeping everything nice, neat and easily accessible (especially helpful if you’re sharing the bathroom with others).

I also use the matching small train case for travel, which is the perfect size to fit all of my makeup, as well as all of my brushes in a separate protected compartment.


e.l.f. Blush Palette in Dark

$6, Target

I’m OBSESSED with this palette (and its shockingly low price tag, obvi). This slim and versatile palette also accompanied me to Vegas -- not only did I have all the blush shades I could possibly need, but the huge internal mirror was perfect for doing my full face of makeup in front of the natural light of the hotel window. The shades offer an impressive color payoff, and they lasted throughout the day (or night) without fading. I’m officially in love.


Vince Camuto “Lyssia” Wedge Sandal in Sandbar

Approximately $35, Amazon

I had a pair of pale, neutral-pink sandals from Jessica Simpson that recently met their demise on a crosswalk in Palo Alto (long story), and I was desperate to find a replacement pair ahead of my Vegas trip that wouldn’t break the bank. After an hour or two spent scouring the Internets, I stumbled upon these beauties on Amazon.

I noted that the price is approximate because there are several sellers offering the shoes through Amazon, and different sizes and colors are available at different prices. It’s slightly confusing, but I was able to snag my pair for $35. The color is so versatile, and a bit more unexpected that your usual nude shoe. They’re also insanely comfortable -- I walked all over Vegas in them (in new shoes, which is asinine to attempt, I know), and I didn’t have a problem.

What have you been loving this month?

- Kristen