Do you know how hard it is for a redhead to find a good eyebrow pencil? Brown colors are too dark, blond colors are too light, and those two shades seem to be the only ones available. I recently went on a mission to Sephora to find a pencil that would fit my warm shade of red. After talking with two sales associates, I was directed to Laura Mercier's Eyebrow Pencil in Auburn ($22). It is literally the only red-tinted pencil in the entire store, and it has transformed my eyebrows in a magnificent way. The shade isn't too bright; it's just right. The other end of the stick is a much-needed brow comb to tame those stray hairs. Mission: Color Yourself accomplished.
I have beauty tools that vibrate, spin, beep, and pulse. Now, I'm adding the Talika Cream Booster ($145) to the bunch. The small wand uses dermatologist-grade technology to increase the efficiency of the skin care products you already own. The device is a trifecta of antiaging benefits. First, it emits negative ions, which make skin cells more open to absorbing the hydrating ingredients in your products. The tool also gives off an orange light, which helps get rid of dull skin. Finally, vibrations help to stimulate circulation and encourage collagen production. In the Winter months, my thicker creams tend to just sit on top of my skin, but everything melts in after a few sweeps of the cream booster. This is one magic wand where abracadabra is not required.
I'd been on the hunt for a good BB cream for a while when I came across Philosophy's Hope in a Jar A to Z Cream ($38). As opposed to some of the other greasier formulas I've come across, this just feels clean. I apply it on a clean face using my fingertips, but I sometimes use a makeup brush under the eyes. And for a tinted moisturizer, it blends shockingly well, which is important, considering it only comes in three shades. The light tint may not be my exact tone, but once it's spread out on my face, you can't tell because my complexion looks totally awesome. It really evens my skin tone and covers up those small discolorations. I've used it alone (good) and under a bit of powder (better), and it's remarkably functional. I'm adding this to my routine for the rest of time.
The goodness of olive oil has been documented in countless ways and using it to cleanse your face is just one of them. While there have been many versions over the years, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil ($28) is a standout. It's olive-oil-based, making it not only excellent at melting makeup away, but also perfect for delivering natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and omega-3 nutrients to your skin. Apply it directly to dry skin while your makeup is still on, massage over your complexion, and rinse away with warm water. You'll be surprised at how clean your skin will be — without that taut, dried-out feeling.
The perfect blowout is one of those things that can seem just oh so elusive. But the truth is that with the right products, you can achieve a salon-quality blowout at home . . . no joke. The Drybar VIP Pack ($25) lets you do just that. The kit contains the perfect trifecta of blowout products: Drybar's Southern Belle mousse, Money Maker hair spray, and Detox dry shampoo, which, when used together, can help you create (and maintain) the easiest at-home blowout ever. Use a small amount of the mousse on your wet hair before you dry with a round brush, and set your look with the hairspray. Then, as your blowout starts its downward slump, spritz on some of the dry shampoo to revive it. And did we mention the products are travel-sized? That means that even a trip home for the holidays will be full of blowout glory. Your mother will never complain about your hair again. Your boyfriend? You're on your own with that one.
The smoky eye is one of the holiday season's most coveted eye shadow looks, but applying all that black shadow can get pretty ugly if you don't know what you're doing. For those of us (ahem . . . like me) who aren't so skilled with smoky eye application, Topshop has gifted us its Smoky Eye Kit ($44). The kit contains the brand's uber-luxe kohl liner, a full-sized tube of its 3D Curve Mascara, and a palette with four shadow shades. While I love the liner and the mascara, my favorite has to be palette, mostly because it does the work for you. Along with your typical black shadow, Topshop's Tuxedo palette houses burgundy, purple, and cream shades, making it easy to create a bunch of different looks. This may be the only kit you need to get you through the holiday season. And as if that weren't enough, the entire kit comes tucked inside a fluorescent envelope clutch. Christmas has come early!
There is nothing more soothing than a spa facial complete with a steam treatment. But if you're looking to keep a couple hundred dollars in your pocket this season, you can get a similar effect at home with the Maijan Nourish Healing Herbal Facial Steam ($17, originally $24). The scent alone will immediately transport you to a more relaxed place. The dry-skin formula, my personal favorite, has dried rose petals to give it a strong floral smell, and there are also rosemary and peppermint to help soothe inflammation. After just five minutes of hovering over a bowl of steaming water mixed with this potpourri, my skin had a healthy glow and soft texture I usually have to wait until Summer to achieve. It's also the perfect way to clear out pores before putting on a mud mask. Just make sure to keep your jar safely concealed in the bathroom vanity, or some unsuspecting guest might mistake it for tea.
Ah, the advent calendar; that Christmas tradition we all loved as kids. But now that we're grown up, we can still get in on the fun with Benefit's Countdown to Love Advent Calendar ($68), and there's just enough time to pick it up for Dec 1. Now, while you might be thinking an advent calendar is a little juvenile, just wait till you start popping open each day. You'll find mini sizes of some of your favorite Benefit products, like Benetint and They're Real! Mascara, along with some other fun trinkets. We think that's a good trade-off for some chocolate treats, right?
I've sworn by Kate Somerville ExfoliKate ($22-$175) for years, and when I don't use it, I realize how much my clear, glowing skin is a result of regular appointments with my Kate Somerville tube. The original formulation is the perfect blend of physical and enzymatic ingredients, so you can be sure you're getting the optimum results with every use. Plus, the formula smells like cinnamon, so it feels like Thanksgiving in a tube!
Try using it when you first step in the shower and leaving it on your face while you do the rest of your routine, so the enzymes get a chance to do their sloughing action. Plus, there are other formulas designed for sensitive skin and acne-prone complexions. Say goodbye to breakouts, scarring, and uneven texture, and say hello to that gorgeous skin you always knew you had.
Nothing like packing and unpacking constantly (thanks, holiday travel!) to make you want to reduce the number of items you take with you. Eye shadow singles are bulky in my bag and can shatter easily, which is precisely why I am obsessed with Le Métier de Beauté kaleidoscopes, which I discovered in the POPSUGAR Must Have Box with Neiman Marcus. And since our limited edition Pretty in Punk is all about bold pink tones, I needed a warmer, neutral counterpart for my everyday looks when I'm traveling. Enter the Carnaby Street eye kit ($95), with layerable shades that will easily take me from work to a holiday party and will help me get cleaned up to face a barrage of relatives on Christmas Day. All in one very chic, very compact little stack.