Palo Santo Tree (the oil comes from fallen branches or dead trees)

Despite my sensitive skin and nose, or maybe because of them, I am a lover of essential oils.  I’ve been playing around with my own blends for years, so I can’t believe that I didn’t know about Palo Santo until recently.  Also known as Holy Wood, it has quite a unique scent.  It’s somewhat comparable to a high quality frankincense, with the addition of an ever-so-soft woody edge.  Palo Santo is considered purifying, calming, and physically grounding, yet spiritually uplifting.  It’s good for meditation, creativity, and anything that requires sustained concentration.

I’ve been trying out ways to bring this wonderful scent into my life.  Here’s what I love…

R.L. Linden & Co. Ironwood Signature Perfume Oil:  Susannah has been loving this company for its skincare and tea.  I love a roll-on perfume oil!  I can’t tolerate alcohol-based scents at all, so I’m always happy to see companies making fragrance in this form.  On the website it’s characterized as a warm, unisex scent with woody, balsam, vanilla and anise notes.  It’s sweeter out of the bottle than what I’d normally choose for a fragrance, but it develops into a scent I really enjoy after several minutes on the skin.   ($38/.33 oz, $3 sample)

Rahua Hair Wax:  This vegan, gluten free, creamy styling wax is very lightly scented with Palo Santo.  The scent is so light that it will layer well with any of your other scented products and not create conflict.  The texture is much softer than I was expecting for something called a wax, and very easy to work with on wet or dry hair.  A teensy bit will give control, and more can be used for sculpting.  I use it to give a little hold and a modern matte finish to my messy, chin-length curls.  NuboNau is up and running again (yay!), and you can find Rahua there any day, but I think Fridays are particularly good shopping days, don’t you?  ($32/3 oz)

DIY sugar scrub:  A sugar scrub is such an easy DIY, even non-DIYers will enjoy this.  I choose my container, fill with sugar, add several drops of my EOs, cover with oil, and mix.  My favorite sugar is coconut palm, as it has a really nice scrubby texture and its own molasses-like scent.  I use these mainly for hand scrubs, so you may want a finer sugar if you will use it on more delicate skin.  My oil of choice is meadowfoam, but anything you like will do.  I just mixed a batch I absolutely love, with Palo Santo and Moroccan Blue Chamomile EOs.

Have you met Palo Santo yet?  How have you used it?

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There’s only one thing better than discovering a product you love, and that’s figuring out a killer combo.

In a recent panic over a misplaced (and since retrieved) tube of Juice Beauty CC cream, I did just that. For better or worse, the CC cream has made me realize just how much I like having that subtle look of more even skin.

So when it went missing I reached into my medicine cabinet and was reintroduced to a product I had previously passed up: Studio 78′s Chameleon Foundation.

Now, to be fair, even when I gave this product the cold shoulder, I knew it had a lot of good things going for it. I loved how it magically transformed when I touched it from a white cream to a perfectly-color-matched foundation, and it had a wonderful texture to it. The glitch? Its coverage just felt a little bit too coveragey for this clean girl.

But desperate times call for innovation. And lo, right there on the bathroom sink sat my trusty PAI Rosehip Biogenerate Oil.

I pretty much love all of the PAI products (special callout to their eye cream, which I like to use on my entire face), but there’s something about this oil that I just keep coming back to. I know, I know—oils. How different are they really? Rosehip is known to be chalk-full of antioxidants and other magical things, which is awesome. And if memory serves, Evan Healy told me it was essentially god’s gift to acne and anti-aging when I interviewed her for the book.

But at the end of the day, while I love information, I’m still largely about the experience. And this is an experience I just adore: the smell, the feel, the way my skin glistens after I apply it.

Now take that effect and combine it with the beautiful texture and just-slightly-too-matte coverage of the foundation and—voila!—skin perfection. Dewy, even, doesn’t-look-like-makeup natural.

Why am I telling you about this instead of just reiterating how great the CC cream is? Well, because they’re actually totally different beasts. The CC cream is subtle city, and sometimes you want to take things to the next but-still-natural level. That’s what this combo is. In fact, my new favorite thing is using all three products for a serious triple threat.

Here’s how I do:

Cleanse, apply your base or sunscreen or, if you’re me, the CC. Then pump a very teeny-tiny amount of the foundation along with a very small drop of the oil onto your finger tips. (If price concerns you with these products, I cannot overemphasize how little is required for each use.) Blend  and apply evenly to your skin with a very light touch (you can always add more). If you have a problem spot you can go ahead and use the foundation on its own too, like around your nose or under your eyes. The crazy thing about this stuff is that even with the oil added, it has incredible lasting power.

Have you tried either of these products? What do you use for coverage? And most importantly, what combos do you create in your bathroom?

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Do You Buy Your Beauty Products Online?

It’s not exactly news that people are buying more and more stuff online. Ecommerce sales are expected to hit a cool $370 billion by 2017. And just this past holiday season, UPS and Fed Ex struggled to keep up with the unexpected surge in online sales.

But it’s one thing to take a chance on a pair of shoes and quite another to purchase something that’s going on your skin. Color-matching and smell are especially tricky when buying beauty stuff at a distance.

We were talking about this the other day with the crew and determined that we all fall into one of these three online shopping profiles: 1) only willing to buy products we know; 2) willing to buy and return (returns, however, aren’t often possible with beauty goods); and 3) willing to buy to try but can’t be bothered to return (unless something is super pricey).

I work in the ecommerce world, so I’m probably not the most unbiased guinea pig, but I’m definitely becoming increasingly comfortable shopping online—maybe a little too comfortable! Still, I tend to fall into category uno: While I’ll totally hit up a Nubonau to re-up on favorite products, I don’t tend to buy things I’ve never tried.

Case in point: I’ve been greedily eyeing the Kjaer Weis line for just about forever. But it wasn’t until Evolue started offering the products in-store a few months back (run, don’t walk, LA ladies) that I finally took the plunge. (And what a plunge it was: I’m especially in love with the sun touched cream blush and goddess lip tint.)

What about you? Where are you buying your beauty products, and what are your online shopping practices?

As fate would have it, my purse was stolen one week ago today. I was out celebrating friendship and a birthday with my girlfriend at a posh little Vietnamese restaurant in one of the burgeoning areas of D.C., the 14th Street Corridor. Like seemingly every restaurant in D.C., there was an hour plus wait for a table so we sat at the spacious bar to have dinner. The bag I was carrying was a little crossbody number that can also be used as a clutch, and I tucked it right behind my back.  At several points in the evening, I had a nervous thought about my purse being too exposed, but I rationalized that I was in a very nice place surrounded by nice looking people. Ha! Always listen to your intuition.

Oddly, before the theft my friend and I were having a conversation about loss and how to deal with it. This past year she was in an accident that totaled her car. Nobody was hurt, but the car had a lot of sentimental value to her and she was surprised by the grief and sense of loss she felt. She told me about a Mexican tradition for processing loss in which you write a letter to the thing you are grieving over and then burn it. This post is my own cathartic way of letting go. It’s my love letter to my purse and everything in it. Here we go…

The bag: I love a stylish purse, but it must be practical, too. The Hobo International Leanne crossbody is something I’ve carried for a couple of years now. I bought it before a trip to San Francisco for my friends’ wedding. It had a cool chain strap that you can tuck inside if you want to carry it like a clutch. It was compact but roomy enough for all my essentials. Mine was a tan leather that had acquired a fantastic patina from use.

The phone: In 2010 I was stuck in bed for a few weeks recovering from a major surgery. My cell phone was all busted, so just before the surgery I ordered a new iPhone 4s. It was something to look forward to during a scary time, and when it arrived a few days after I was released from the hospital, it kept me pleasantly distracted from physical discomfort. Last year I cracked the screen, but it still worked and I didn’t see any reason to replace it.

The Makeup: Mostly lippies here, with a few additional items I always carry. This represents the best of my collection, items I’ve been slowly acquiring that had become my can’t-live-without staples. Tata Harper Be Adored Lip Treatment, my first purchase from Eco Diva Beauty, I’ve been obsessed with its perfect rosy tint and unbelievable conditioning abilities. Worth every penny.  W3LL People Nudist Colorbalm Stick #8 Poppy, also conditioning but with more of a pigmented, waxy finish. The color is bright and happy without being overdone. W3LL People Universalist Luminous Colorstick in Moonstoon Glow, my go-to illuminator that nourishes your skin while adding a subtle glow to cheeks and eyes. I bought both directly from W3ll People after sampling them. In case you don’t know, they have an excellent sample program, and the new packaging is truly an upgrade. Ilia Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner in everyone’s favorite Bang Bang. This was my first Ilia purchase, which I ordered from NuboNau. It made me fall in love with the brand. When I’m going for a feminine yet edgy look, this bold lippie is what I grab. Ilia Beauty Lip Gloss in Peek A Boo, a nudish color that works on me when no other nudes do. Did you know that you can use Ilia’s lip conditioner and lip gloss as a blush? It works, and the color payoff and staying power is impressive.  La Bella Figura Travel Therapy Botanical Mood, the most soothing and uplifting scent inlcudes blood orange, rose otto, and blue tansy. It is highly addictive, as Nicolle has attested. Fortune of all fortunes, I have an extra bottle at home. At least I wasn’t carrying LBF’s Positano Perfume Oil, my latest scent obsession. I purchased both scents directly from the lovely ladies at La Bella Figura.

Phew, that’s it. I’ve started to rebuild, but it will take some time. Yesterday I ordered two new Ilia Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioners from Eco Diva Beauty in colors I’ve long wanted to try — Shell Shocked and Crimson and Clover. Sometimes you need a fresh start, even if you weren’t looking for one.

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Happy Friday Deal From NuboNau!

Back by popular demand! For those of you who missed the last deal, or those of you who just can’t get enough, NuboNau has got you covered. The ladies at NuboNau have just restocked some of your favorites, like the Juice Beauty CC Cream, and they added new goodies from Neon, RMS, and more. So here’s the deal…

NuboNau is giving you 20% off their entire collection! Just use the promotion code NMDL20 at checkout. The deal is yours until Tuesday (midnight PST).

The deal includes sale items as well, but only applies to items in stock. Orders over $95 receive free shipping. As always, you’ll earn loyalty points to spend on future purchases. Enjoy and have a gorgeous weekend!