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Holiday 2016

Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gifts for the Guys In Your Life

December 15, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for the Guys in your Life Tech Grooming Gadgets and More

I have a couple more gift guides to share as Christmas is just around the corner and it’s crunch time to order items to have them arrive in time for the holidays. Finding gifts for the guys in my life is generally easy for me to do as there are tons of grooming, tech and shoe options to choose from. In general I would not recommend buying fragrance or clothes for someone unless you’re really close to them and have a good sense of their personal taste, exact size and style – but there are a couple of items I’ve found I think could be universally appealing regardless of age of fashion type.

  1. Mr. Porter Grooming Kit for Winter 2016 ($95) has a gift set of 12 grooming products with a great selection of minis and travel-sized products, I like these types of sets because guys like my husband or brother won’t usually seek out products to try unless it’s gifted in a set to them, this is a nice way to help them explore skincare
  2. Clarisonic Alphafit ($219) I bought this for my husband over a year ago and he says this is something he thinks every guy should own, and says he even the low maintenance ones will use it because it’s easy to use, convenient to have and store in the shower and is compact for travel, he says it’s also made a huge difference in skin texture and keeping it break-out free
  3. Leica C Digital Camera ($629) comes with high ratings for a digital camera, I’m actually looking for a small one to travel with for myself too but also have this on the list for my brother in law
  4. Bose SoundSport Pulse In-Ear Wireless Headphones ($199.95) is on my husband’s wishlist, he’s been looking for some wireless ear phones for when he runs and I just ordered these for him
  5. Art of Shaving Peppermind and Razor Set ($115) has the new Peppermint Shaving Cream, Facial Scrub and Facial Wash along with the Morris Park Razor, for the women who want the men in their life to up their shaving game, there are lots of sets, starter sets and razors to choose from
  6. Harry’s Travel Dopp Kit ($25) is something I actually got for my husband from the Birchbox Man on the Move Gift Set ($55) which is a steal considering all the items packed inside, if you want something at the $25 price point you can buy the bag separately (and my husband has actually used it for travel), but if your budget can allow a bit more the gift set is a really great value
  7. Cole Haan Grand Pro Sneakers ($130) come in a wide range of colors and finishes (also leather), these are among my husband’s favorite for comfort and quality
  8. Fitbit Charge 2 Special Edition Wireless Activity and Heart Rate Tracker ($179.95) is something I’m considering ordering for my husband as well, he’s had the Nike Watch on his radar for a while but this one looks more compact – if you’ve tried either let me know which you think is better
  9. Dior Sauvage Gift Set ($118) is one of the fragrance sets for men I think is universally appealing regardless of style and age, the set has my husband’s favorite deodorant and while we were away his brother stayed at our place for the week and of course sampled all of his grooming drawers, the minute we got home he said, “I really like this scent – can you buy some for me for Christmas” – my husband and his brother are opposites in style so if both of them like this scent I think it’s a good sign that most guys will
  10. Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth Speakers ($129) are something I bought previous versions of as gifts, my husband had his in his office but just brought it back home to use in the bathroom while he showers, I think the colors are fun
  11. Chanel Bleu de Chanel Shave Cream ($45) is something new to the Bleu de Chanel Grooming line, if you know guys who like this scent there are some new additions like this shave cream
  12. Chanel Bleu de Chanel Travel Eau de Toilette ($77) comes with 3 0.7 oz Eau de Toilettes in a twist and spray canister you can refill, this was my husband’s go-to for years until recently when he decided to switch things up a bit, he still has the travel size ones and uses them
  13. Kiehl’s Jeremyville Ultimate Man Full Body Refueling Set ($62) you can’t go wrong with Kiehl’s skincare for men, their sets during the holiday are among the best in skincare (I bought a few for myself) and the items are guaranteed to get used
  14. Island Slipper Leather Sandal ($94.95) might be something you can’t wear right now if you live anywhere that it’s cold or snowy, but planning for warmer weather is always something you can do ahead of time, especially if you’re planning a tropical vacation, I ordered these over the spring because they had overwhelmingly positive reviews, my husband said they’re the best sandals he has ever owned, he wore them most of our Florida trip and they are comfortable for walking and the beach (I went ahead and ordered this style so he can have a second pair)

If you’re looking for last minute gifts for the guys in your life I hope you found this roundup helpful! Many of these are tried and tested so know there are options above that have had actual success. If you have any good ones you’d like to share let me know in the comments!

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Holiday Gift Guide

Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label for Holiday

December 14, 2016

Antica Farmacista Holiday 2016 Champagne Black Label

I discovered Antica Farmacista over the summer thanks to a recommendation from a friend and have been enamored with what I’ve discovered so far. The team sent over a few pieces for holiday and I was so smitten with the Champagne Black Label scent I went ahead and ordered other items such as the candles for the home and for gifts. I included items in my Luxury Candle Holiday Gift Guide and today I have more items to review. Home fragrance comes in a number of options and formats. While I love burning candles for creating the perfect relaxed ambiance, diffusers and room sprays are great alternatives.

What I have tested:

The Champagne Black Label scent is one of the prettiest feminine home scents I’ve ever smelled. It’s sparkling, sweet and has a very fresh feel – reminds me of what a luxury spa smells like. It has Satsuma citrus, muguet, apricot, passionfruit and sugared black currant. The throw of the mini diffuser in the trio set has decent throw that it fills up the entire bathroom (we have a small one). It’s girly but not too girly that it bothers my husband. For the candles I prefer the larger size, the small one is cute and the packaging is adorable but it burned through quickly. Throw and lasting power of the Room Fragrance Spray is good as a refresher and it lingers for at least one hour. If you want something that lasts longer, opt for one of the larger diffusers or candle.

Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label Diffusers and Room Sprays for holiday

Little details and touches make all the difference and I’m absolutely smitten with the fact that the Champagne Black Label Candle (in the full size) comes with matches inside the lid of the box. I get easily excited about small things like this but I have never bought a candle before like this with such pretty packaging.

Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label

The diffuser I reviewed back in July is about 75% used up. I bought several other scents during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and gave a few to my husband to put in his office. Several readers who have tried the line commented that some scents have good throw for the reed diffusers while others do not and I agree with their assessment. The ones for holiday have very good throw in my experience – I have both the mini 100 ml size and full size 500 ml size.

Another beautiful limited-edition set is the Home Ambiance Diffuser Trio. My husband has a full-size Manhattan in his office and likes it for a nice subtle warm citrus with spice and pepper. He put it in the restrooms of his office to keep them smelling nice. I’ve have the Champagne Black Label opened in our home. I have not yet tried or smelled the Vanilla, Bourbon and Mandarin and given the fact that these diffusers seem to last a long time it may be a few months before I open it up. The holiday set is beautifully packaged and fairly reasonable at the $64 price point. I think it’s one that can make a great hostess gift and can also work well for co-worker or office gifts. Home scent can be tricky for gifting as fragrance of any kind is personal but I do think these will be suitable for any age or style.

Antica Farmacista Home Ambiance Trio Set

Antica Farmacista Champagne Black Label Room Spray and Diffuser

Tray from West Elm but no longer available, similar style here and here

Overall I’m impressed and everything I’ve tried from Antica Farmacista so far is just exquisite. The scents are strong and long lasting. They add a sophisticated touch to the home and I love that the scents are feminine but not too girly. The Champagne Black Label is limited-edition and if you’re looking for a good holiday scent that won’t leave the home smelling like a Christmas Tree or Pumpkin Spices this is a great one to try this season or gift. All my friends and family say that I’m the hardest to shop for and I always tell them not to stress and if they want to get me something, I’m beyond thrilled with something simple like a Diptyque candle (because I do use them a lot) or candy because I’m the biggest sugar addict. For those who are hard to shop for this line is one line I think you can’t go wrong with.

You can find Antica Farmacista at their website, also available at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

If you’ve tried anything from this line let me know what your favorites are!

Press samples provided including the diffuser, diffuser set, and room spray. Candles purchased by me.

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Holiday Gift Guide

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette

December 9, 2016

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Blush Palette reviewed from the Sabrina of The Beauty Look Book

For holiday Hourglass Cosmetics launched a new limited-edition palette called the Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette ($62 for 3 x 0.09 oz/ 2.55 g). It launched as a Sephora VIB Rouge Exclusive on Cyber Monday and I ordered it as soon as it popped up online. This palette combines the illuminating particles from the Strobe Lighting Powders mixed with Blush Pigments for a radiant glow. Those familiar with Hourglass powders from the Ambient Lighting Line already know the powders are hand made with a special mixing technique which makes every powder different and unique. The colors in each palette will all similar to each other based on the formula but there will be slight variations in depth of color depending on how much highlighter your palette has versus blush pigment.

I’ve acquired almost all of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palettes (all except for holiday 2015) and a number of individual colors. The latest Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette is the most glowy out of all the palettes and powders I’ve tested, even more so than the Ambient Strobe Lighting Powders (reviewed here).

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Texture and pigment in this palette is ultra smooth and glowy without being frosty. There are three colors, Incandescent Electra is supposed to be the same as the one available individually, but the ones I have from the original 2014 blush palette and one I have in individual form are different from this season’s palette. The Incandescent Electra in my Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette is significantly more glowy but the color is the same if that makes sense. Descriptions per Hourglass’s website:

  • INCANDESCENT ELECTRA: A cool peach blush blended with Incandescent Strobe Light for a celestial glow.
  • BRILLIANT NUDE (NEW): A deep amber blush blended with Brilliant Strobe Light for a lustrous glow.
  • EUPHORIC FUSION (NEW): A soft lilac blush blended with Euphoric Strobe Light for a resplendent glow.

On my medium complexion, the colors in the palette I purchased are all more like highlighters on my skin versus blushes. Yours may vary depending on the swirl you have and also differ if you have different skintone. Close up and swatches:

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book BlogHourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Comparisons to the other two palettes I have:

Top – the Ambient Lighting Blush Palette (review from 2014)
Middle – the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016 exclusive (review here)
Bottom – Holiday 2016 Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette

Hourglass Palette Comparisons from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Comparison swatches:

Hourglass Palette Comparisons from The Beauty Look Book Blog

Overall a lovely addition to the Hourglass Ambient Lighting line. Even though I already own Incandescent Electra the one in this palette has more glow and shimmer compared to previous versions that I own. It is on the glowy side so the colors are more highlighter than blush on my skin. I wasn’t able to swatch comparisons to the other holiday launch Ambient Lighting Edit Palette in Surreal Light (review here) before I left for my trip however I will say that between the two I prefer the larger one for the colors. Both palettes are different enough to justify both if you don’t mind having a lot of blush or highlighter.

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette reviewed from The Beauty Look Book BlogBottom line I love it and the glimmer in each of the powders is perfect for adding a bit of a nice holiday glow on the eyes or cheeks. They layer well with other blushes (both powders and creams), meld nicely with the skin and don’t emphasize my pores like some highlighters can do if they have lots of shimmer. Whether or not you’ll like this will most likely depend on your skintone. On fair to light skins the colors will most likely show up more. On my medium olive toned skin the color shows up o arm swatches but once on my face, Brilliant Nude and Euphoric Fusion are more highlighter-like and almost nude in the sense that they give a glow rather than a tint like blush. My MAC shade right now is about an NC30 in the MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation (swatched here with other foundation shades). Note that since I tan easily I fluctuate in color by a few shades on a regular basis depending on how much sun I’ve been exposed to. How this palette shows up your skin will also depend on how much pigment your palette has swirled in compared to strobe powders.

You can find the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Blush Palette now online exclusively at Sephora. I ordered mine online. At this time I’m not sure if will launch at other retailers.

Holiday Gift Guide

Clutch-Sized Party Makeup Minis and Multi-Taskers for the Holiday Season

December 6, 2016

Clutch-Sized-Beauty-Holiday

The holiday season is in full swing and finding small beauty items that fit inside a clutch or an emergency makeup bag can sometimes be challenging. The upside of holiday season for beauty is the fact that there are tons of sets with smaller sized minis that are perfect for testing out product and also compact enough to fit in the smallest of purses. I’ve picked out some favorites for quick touch ups or refreshers along with some long-lasting options that don’t require any touch ups if you’re on the go or out during holiday parties or gatherings.

Up first are picks for the lips. I’m a glossy lip kind of person whether it’s a sheer lipstick with shine or straight up gloss because they’re more forgiving when it comes to fading. You don’t get that dark ring around the edges like you do from remnants of lipstick. But sometimes for the holidays liquid lipsticks are the way to go because they last a long time and you don’t have to worry about touch ups.

Holiday Lip Essentials Laura Mercier Tom Ford Lips and Boys Armani Lip Magnet Stila

  • Laura Mercier Kiss of Shine Lip Glace Collection (c/o) has five miniature glosses, one sparking sheer white and the others are creams, I received a press sample of the kit without names so unfortunately I don’t know what each color is called
  • Tom Ford Lips and Boys (c/o) are the perfect clutch-sized lipstick, current holiday favorites are Ashton, Bradley and Jake (shown)
  • Armani Lip Magnets are the best liquid lipstick I’ve tried because they have a satiny matte finish but don’t look like matte lips, these last a long time, longer than most lipsticks so they’ll stay put and you don’t have to worry about lipstick to teeth transfer, I bought some of the neutral shades and will have them reviewed on the blog soon (quick take is even the lighter neutrals are still on the bright and deep side, there aren’t really any nudes in the formula, at least not yet)
  • Stila Stay All Day, Sparkle all Night Lip Set has five mini liquid lip colors and a shimmering top coat for the lips, these dry to a matte finish and truly last all day, the set has tiny ones that are small enough to fit in the tiniest of clutches

Laura Mercier Lip Glace minis set swatched:

Laura Mercier Kiss of Shine

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks swatched:

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick Set

If you need to refresh the hair Oribe is always a great option with minis and Laura Mercier has a cute compact with all the colors you need that will go with virtually any outfit you wear for day or night.

Oribe Mini Dry Texturizing Spray Dry Shampoo and Laura Mercier Going Glam Palette

Next Oribe Gold Lust Set (Nordstrom Exclusive) has both the Dry Texturizing Spray and Dry Shampoo great for hair refreshers. In the set you also get a hair oil but it’s not really purse-friendly so it’s not shown in this post. The Laura Mercier Going Glam Palette has four neutral eyeshadows in Coffee Ground, Vanilla Nuts, Boudoir, Steal Pink, two blushesin Poesie and Bellini which are just perfect and a shimmering peach gloss in Bellini. I like that the shadows have a partition to keep the powder inside so it doesn’t transfer to the blushes.

Laura Mercier Going Glam Palette Swatches

Finding a classic simple black leather clutch under $100 is harder than it sounds like it would be, this textured leather clutch shown from Halogen fits all the things I need and is simple and sleek. For perfume there are tons of rollerball perfumes at Nordstrom. Also be sure to check out the holiday fragrance sets because lots of brands have sampler sizes and minis. I have some Jo Malone minis I saved from previous sets. This year’s Cologne Collection has Lime Basil and Mandarin, Basil and Neroli, Pomegranate Noir, Mimosa and Cardamom, Wood Sage and Sea Salt. For the cheeks as much as I love powder, for on the go you need a brush to apply so creams for parties and touch ups are the way to go for me. The RMS Mix Master is something that adds a sheer sheen and dewy glow. MAC Studio Quiktrik Sticks are double sided with a shimmery side and a contour color you can use on cheeks and eyes. I like Softly Does It/Tight and Tawny which is the one shown below. I’ve also swatched another color as well. For mascara the Stila Huge Lash is one of my favorites and it comes in a mini size in the Huger than Huge Duo.

clutch-beauty-mac-rms-stila-jo-malone

MAC Quiktrik Stick and RMS Mix Master

One last look:

Clutch Essentials Holiday Oribe Mini Dry Texturizing Spray Dry Shampoo and Laura Mercier Going Glam Palette

Hope you enjoyed this post! You can shop the items from Nordstrom below, also don’t forget to check out their Gift With Purchase page. There’s a 25 piece GWP going on right now in beauty:

What are your holiday party beauty essentials? Do you have small items you keep for your clutch?

Many thanks to Nordstrom for partnering to sponsor this post.

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Holiday Gift Guide Travel

Holiday Gift Guide For the Traveler and Girl on the Go

December 2, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for the Traveler

Today’s gift guide is a roundup with ideas for those who travel frequently or for the girl on the go. Even though over a year has passed since our Europe trip, I’ve still been dreaming of traveling and hope to do more of it in the near future. There is so much to see in the world and although I haven’t been able to travel much in past years I’ve enjoyed the few trips I’ve been on and it makes me really happy when I get emails from some of you about my travel posts. I’m really touched that many of you are so supportive when I incorporate new and different content on this blog. A quick note that I will be traveling to Florida later this month – we’re going to be visiting both Tampa and Miami and parts in between. If you have any recommendations on what to see in a week’s time let me know in the comments!

  1. Truffle Clarity Mini and Card Case Duo ($55) comes in four color options with a mini clutch and card case, I use these clear pouches on a regular basis, for those who want options, you can buy just the clear pouch individually and there are other sizes and colors you can pick from in the Small and Large
  2. Happy Plugs In-Ear Headphones ($34.99) the ones shown are white marble but they also come in other colors
  3. Rib Knit Scarf ($39) you can’t go wrong with a classic scarf, I usually buy the Tissue Weight Cashmere and Wool ($99) blend every year for a nice lightweight wrap, but for those who need something warmer the rib knit one is very cozy
  4. Away Gift Set ($225 and up) is a cute way to gift one of the Away Suit Cases, it’s basically a gift card packaged in a mini case with travel-sized Aesop products
  5. Away Carry On Luggage ($225) now comes in two new colors Snow and Asphalt, since reviewing their carry-on over the summer in this post, they’ve launched a Bigger Carry-On Size ($245) as well, I haven’t tried it but for me the regular Carry-On Size is just perfect
  6. Ugg Australia Travel Set ($88) has a cozy blanket and sleep eye mask in a gift set, it comes in three colors
  7. Mophie Powerstation ($39.99) is something I’ve used for years, I have the black one (shown here) and it’s lasted years for me, I always carry one with me even on day or weekend trips
  8. Tom Ford Lips and Boys ($36 each) are the cutest mini lipsticks ever, all 25 new shades swatched in this post, they’re perfect for travel because the mini size barely takes up any space
  9. Byredo Hand Cream ($35) is the ultimate splurge for hand creams, I’ve purchased two in the past and the scent is pretty good for a hand cream, if you want something a bit more affordable but just as good I recommend the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve ($15) which also now comes in three scents Coriander, Grapefruit and Lavender ($15 each), Molton Brown also has good ones to gift away, having a good one on hand is a travel must
  10. Oribe Styling Kit x Birchbox ($35) has five minis of their sprays, review of this one here
  11. Laura Mercier Brush it On Luxe Collection Travel Brush Set ($98) has six travel-sized brushes in a roll case, their travel brushes are always well made, I’ve accumulated quite a few over the years
  12. Slip Silk Eye Mask ($45) is on my own wishlist as I have one of the Slip Silk Pillow Cases and really like it
  13. Fleur’t Night Night Eyelash Eye Mask ($23) with the eyelashes is just too cute
  14. Sephora Luxe Combo Travel Brush ($15) is a great travel hair brush it also comes in a Gold Color for holiday
  15. Ouai to Travel Set ($32) has three travel-sized hair products in a white zip case
  16. Drybar Baby Buttercup Dryer ($135) is a compact but powerful travel hair dryer, on numerous trips I’ve debated whether or not to take a dryer with me, I’m the type who needs their own hair dryer, ones in hotels simply just don’t work the same for me, review on this one soon, if you’re into sets for holiday it also comes in the Let it Blow! Set for the same price as the individual dryer
  17. Chanel Les Minis de Chanel ($125) is the first Chanel brush set I’ve bought, I love their mini sets that they launch each year but in previous seasons there has been at least 1 or 2 brushes in the sets that I didn’t think I’d use so I passed, this year has ones I would actually use, I haven’t tried it yet but will be bringing it with me on my upcoming trip
  18. Anya Hindmarch In-Flight Case ($330) is one of the most expensive beauty items I’ve splurged on but it’s great for travel to keep everything beauty related in one place, it was featured here and here, if you don’t need something compact the Bobbi Brown Beauty Case is also a great one for travel

Do you have any travel favorites or must haves? I’m going to be busy packing this weekend so I won’t have new posts up Saturday or Sunday, but stay tuned for a new post to go live on Monday 🙂

Have a great weekend!

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