The Seven Beauty Products of Summer

As I flipped my Boston Terrier 2012 calendar to August last week, I realized that summer is kind of winding down. Can you believe it? I may have shed a tear at the thought of summer Fridays coming to an end. But then I smiled at the idea of cooler temps. And then I read that this July was the hottest Chicago’s had in 57 years and I realized that the temps likely aren’t going down anytime soon. Now? I’m in “embrace it” mode. Time to live in the moment and appreciate all of the things there is to love about summer. For us, it’s paying special homage to seven products that are so unbelievably summer.

Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 Lotion Sunscreen is such a nostalgia product, but the “sun safe” version. It’s got a protective SPF 30 (option to go up to 50 or down to 12 in this variety) and perfectly captures the essence of the tropics. Bonus points for the moisturizing formula, which keeps your skin looking and feeling smooth while beach/pool-side.

Wouldn’t be summer without self-tanner. The surprise hit for me this summer is Tarte Maracuja Self-Tanner. The applicator mitt is both handy and stylish, and the formula is top notch. About as scent-free as you can get and impossible to mess up. I couldn’t get a streak from this if I applied this half-asleep. For a really impressive (and believable) bronzy hue, I apply this as the follow-up to my beloved Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Body Pad. Doubling up is the way to go, people!

Stains are a must in the melting months, lest your blush just fall off of your face in three hours. Stila Passion Fruit Lip & Cheek Stain, launched with the brand’s summer 2012 collection, is the perfect summer color. It’s a pinky coral that leans more orange, less red. With just a few clicks to lips and cheeks, it brightens up the entire face. Bonus points for the fact that the formula includes actual passion fruit extract!

Bath time and hot summers don’t quite click, but a girl still needs to relax in the bath.  My sanity needs tubby time (+ wine).  I swap my candlelight in for something fresh and summery and lower the water temperature by several degrees. The absolute perfect summer candles are from Slatkin & Co., available at Bath & Body Works for major sale right now. I’ve peppered the refreshing orange blossom and jasmine Beach Cabana scent throughout my home.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow is the best thing to happen to my eye makeup this summer. There’s 12 colors — a mix of matte, shimmer, light and dark — and each one is completely waterproof. They just do not budge. If it’s in the Aqua line, you know it’s going to last. I’m obsessed with shade 20E, a pearly taupe, that looks especially phenom on the lower lash line.

Proof that beauty bloggers know everything. Our pal Beauty Bets raved about Coola Mineral Face Tinted Rose Essence SPF 20 and I picked up a tube right away. And all I can say is WOW. The rose essence is such a nice addition and the formula makes my skin look great. On those 95 degree days, this is really all you need on your face.

I stockpile bars of LUSH Buffy come summertime. It is by far my favorite product to use in the shower in the warmer months. It is part moisturizer, part exfoliator and smells like a fresh vat of shea butter. Skin is left polished from the ground rice, almond and beans. The exfoliants are so fine, that it reminds me of sand. This product just oozes summer.

Your turn! What beauty products define the summer season for you?

Let it Snow, Inside, With Bath & Body Works Sparkling Snow Anti-Bacterial Soap

I wanted a white Christmas this year. Instead, I got sunshine. Not so bad, when I put it that way. But I miss the snowflakes. When you spend Christmas in Wisconsin, you just expect snow. Know what I mean? I found some consolation at my parent’s house, though, with Bath & Body Works Sparkling Snow Anti-Bacterial Soap. This stuff is GOOD. I’m a committed Vanilla Bean Noel girl this time of year, but am sold on Sparkling Snow’s festive blend of snowberry (not real, right?), strawberry, jasmine and vanilla. It’s sweet, but the jasmine prevents it from being too sweet.  

And because my mom also stockpiles soap like her daughter, she had an extra bottle of Sparkling Snow for me to take home. This one will be stationed at my bathroom sink all winter long! It’s still available for a limited time at Bath & Body Works.

Scrub-sessed! Bath & Body Works Into The Wild Smoothing Body Scrub

I’ve found my “it” exfoliator of the summer: Bath & Body Works Into the Wild Smoothing Body Scrub. I’m “scrub-sessing” in a big way. Some scents just strike you, and Into the Wild has absolutely captivated my attention. All other body scrubs have been sitting idle in my shower, as a result. This scrub is a master at its trade, and exfoliating is so necessary in the summer, especially with all of the self-tanners I’ve been using. It’s a misnomer that you’ll exfoliate the tan off of you. You actually need to slough off that dead skin in order to keep the tan looking natural and fresh.

The formula contains super-fine walnut shells, hydrating coconut milk and moisturizing Vitamin E. It’s got a very beachy, sandy texture without the beachy smell. This is not your average tropical scent, rather it’s a blend of mandarin, petals and white woods. To me, it has a smokey overtone and is a touch on the exotic side.

And the best part, you can snag this at Bath & Body Works for $14. However, because they are masters of the sales and coupons, you can probably get this for an even better deal. And you should, it’s amazing! I know I’ll be stockpiling this one:)

Scents of the Season: Winter

You know the phrase, if you can’t beat them, join ’em? Well that’s sort of how I feel about old mother winter. Truly, the weather outside is frightful but the scent of winter is such a cozy one! Fresh fir, fires, wreaths, winter berries and snow. Divine! But if we’re being real here, we all know that “snow” is traditionally unscented. 🙂

The smell of “Christmas tree” is intoxicatingly holiday. If I could, I’d have a real tree inside my house all year round. Instead, I put up a fake one right after Thanksgiving and take it down in January. But with Slatkin & Co.’s Fresh Balsam candle burning, you’d hardly know the difference. This candle truly makes the house smell like fresh pine in the best possible way. I stockpiled this scent on a Black Friday binge at Bath & Body Works!

Tocca’s Tahoe Candle, exclusive to Blue Mercury, evokes that feeling of cozy ski lodge in your own home. It’s got that crisp, wintery pine smell I love so much. With this candle burning and a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows please) in my hand, I feel like I’m enjoying life at a higher altitude.

In nearly every room of my house, I have a Wallflowers scented oil diffuser plugged in somewhere.  And I’ve got Winter burning fresh! Winter captures the spices of the season perfectly and really makes my home smell great. I love stashing these in rooms that don’t get a lot of air flow, like the basement.

What scents are you loving this season? I’m always interested to hear what those in warmer climates have to say too. Do you love the smell of winter too?

Bath & Body Works Gentle Foaming Hand Soap Pump Rant

You know the saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, that about sums up how I feel about Bath & Body Works packaging redesign of its anti-bacterial hand soaps, particularly the Gentle Foaming Hand Soaps. Aesthetically, there is nothing wrong. In fact, I like the shorter bottles. My issue lies solely with with the pump. It should be as simple as pressing down, but no matter what I do the soap flies everywhere. I have to carefully cup my hand around the nozzle in order to prevent that from happening. I also notice resistance in pressing down on the pump, which just adds to the problems.

All of the pump malfunctioning appears to impact the formula too. It comes out a little watery and doesn’t have the foaming pizzazz it used to. I’ve tried a few different bottles and even surveyed my sister, also a huge fan of the gentle foaming, and she noted a marked difference in the pump. Time for the packaging engineers to take another stab, please!

Anyone else experiencing any issues? To remedy, I’m switching to the Bath & Body Works Deep Cleansing and Moisturizingvarieties. But I miss my gentle foam!

Flavor of the Month: Mint

Product Girl’s flavor of the month for August is mint. We’re not sure anything beats a cool splash of mint in one of the steamiest months. It’s incredibly refreshing. Here’s the minty products we’ve been showing some love.

  • Renee Rouleau Mint Buffing Beads – I’ve been reaching for this little beloved jar of mine all summer long when I need some gentle exfoliation. The beads are super gentle, not harsh or abrasive at all and the formula is creamy, keeping in line with my light hydration regime this season.
  • Philosophy Kiss Me Exfoliating Lip Scrub & Facial – This minty lip scrub is a triple threat: it exfoliates,  moisturizes lips and helps freshen your breath at the same time for less than some other high end lip scrubs. I now have a few scattered around in different places… you should too!
  • Suave Professionals Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner – I live for the smell of Aveda’s Rosemary Mint shampoo and conditioner, but find it can be a little drying. At less than $3 a bottle,Suave offers a great alternative. I find that it lathers well ( all those sulfates – not minding them here!) and the conditioner provides a smooth finish without weighing my hair down.
  • Bath & Body Works Nectarine Mint Gentle Foaming Hand Soap This soap is additional proof that mint can be paired with nearly anything. Sometimes nectarine can be too citrusy sweet, but the mint tones it down beautifully. It’s been on my bathroom counter all summer.
  • Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser – There’s nothing subtle about the mint in this new cleanser from Origins. It’s minty to the extreme and leaves your skin feeling cool — almost cold! It’s a surprisingly gentle cleanser though, it doesn’t strip your skin of essential oils but rather just the gook and grime we accumulate every day.

Are you a fan of mint as well? Share your picks with us!

Summer Beauty: Fresh & Light Perfumes

I’m sure I’m not alone here but usually in the summer, I reach for my lighter fruit and citrus note based perfumes. There’s just something about a clean fresh fragrance in the summertime that makes everything better. Sometimes all I need is just to smell one of these fragrances on my skin to feel better when it’s hot and muggy outside… which granted hasn’t been that often here in Seattle this but nonetheless, it is about freshness for me this summer and these fragrances fit the bill.

I’ve already told you about Dior’s Escale Aux Marquises, it’s my current tropical floral escape fragrance. If you like your summer fragrances to be more on the floral side of things, I bet you’ll like this one.  The notes of blood orange, tiare flower, pink pepper and vanilla create a beautiful breezy bouquet.

Last year I was looking for suggestions for a new summer fragrance and turned to Twitter for ideas. God Bless Heather Park (check out her new website) for suggesting Jo Malone’s Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne, we have been inseparable ever since. This is now one of my favorite fragrances of all time. When you first smell it’s beautiful nectarine notes, it’s like biting into a fresh, ripe nectarine. It’s mouth watering with notes of  nectarine, peach, plum and blackcurrant. I am complimented almost every time I wear it and I have even been known to spritz it on for a little pick me… it’s just a happy scent.

Pacifica’s Malibu Lemon Blossom Spray Perfume is another happy scent I’m loving this summer. I’m love it so much that I’ve picked up the Lemon Blossom soap, body butter and candles to layer and fill my life with the scent. Imagine a soapy lemon scent with a touch of salt and lemon blossom thrown in, that’s Malibu Lemon Blossom. It is a unique and long lasting scent that wears all day.

I received a sample of Orange Sapphire from Bath & Body Works back in May when I was in New York. I smelled it at the time and liked it but didn’t love it until I discovered the bottle among some of my makeup after I moved last month. As the name suggest, there’s definitely some orange to this fragrance but there are also some floral and darker notes in it as well. The result is a very clean, refreshing fragrance that almost crosses into unisex territory.

What are your favorite warm weather perfumes? Leave a comment and tell us what you’re wearing these days.

Summer Beauty: Bath & Body

I am a steam fiend, and a hot shower can be one of the most relaxing, refreshing moments of the day. But with all the heat and humidity, I haven’t been finding showers all that refreshing lately. I’ve been trying to use products that smell fresh and that are good for my skin. And I want the moisture and benefits of a moisturizer without actually having to slather it on post-shower. So here are the products I’ve been relying on this summer to recharge my skin.

Not only does Korres Melon Showergel smell absolutely incredible, it’s also enriched with aloe, vitamins C, E and Zinc and wheat proteins to protect and retain your skin’s moisture level. I first got a sample packet of this from Sephora a few months ago and was enchanted by the smell. It’s on the sweet side but unbelivably fresh so I picked up a big bottle from Korres. I really like this for summer.

I’m all about invoking the spa feeling on my own turf, and a great at-home treatment is AHAVA’s Dead Sea Mineral Mud. It’s packed with minerals and deeply purifies the skin. I loved how my skin felt afterward, but it’s sort of cumbersome to use at home. I slathered the mud all over my body (at room temp) and waited about 10 minutes to hop in the shower. So during that time, it’s not like you can sit down! I read my book on the counter, and made sure my dog didn’t try to lick my legs.

I’ve been loving Bath & Body Works Exfoliating Shower Gel in Deep Aqua. It’s a gentle scrub and you can easily use it everyday. But what really attracted me to this product was the smell of Deep Aqua. It’s so fresh – compliments the Korres well with its scent of melon, water blossoms, dewy gardenia and white woods. Bath & Body Works has a winner on their hands with this one — I can hardly find it anymore and it’s sold out online too.

I’ve been loving Lush’s Buffy Body Butter for a blast of in-shower moisture that lasts all day. I can’t be bothered with putting on lotion – it just melts off throughout the day and weighs me down. Lush’s Buffy is the perfect solution – I scrub it on as the last step in the shower and rinse it off just before getting out. It literally feels like I just bathed in shea butter – I love the ease of use!  It does make the shower floor a little slippery though — proceed with caution.

Do you use any special products for summer? As always, we’d love to know what you’re loving.

Disclosure: We received a sample packet of the AHAVA Dead Sea Mineral Mud

A Day at the Beach, Product Girl Style

If there’s one thing I am determined to do over the 4th of July weekend it is to get some sun. I’ll be visiting my parents in Wisconsin, and I plan on going to the beach. Naturally, this involves lots of sunscreen. Both Carla and I are in the pale category, and while I don’t burn easily, I am careful to protect my skin. I’m actually still affected from that one time in college I went snowboarding in California and got the worst sunburn of my life on my face. My nose has never been the same. Seriously. My nose could get sunburnt from my office lamp.

So in addition to the SPF, here’s a day at the beach, Product Girl style.

When I know I’m going to be swimming or be active at the beach, I purposefully don’t wear much makeup. But I still need something to help even out my skin tone. Urban Decay Urban Defense Tinted Moisturizer is perfect to apply over my sunscreen. It has SPF 20,  but I recommend more if you’re exposed to the sun (of course!) It’s light coverage and gives me that feeling of being polished without really wearing makeup.

My face is shielded from the sun 99.9 percent of the time, so it’s not exactly bursting with color. Normally I would just go without bronzer, but Tarte Cosmetics introduced my favorite bronzer, Park Ave Princess, in a matte, waterproof version. And it truly is waterproof – check out Gouldylox’s Review for proof. Score! Now I can be visibly bronzed while secretly pale underneath at the beach.

I don’t have freckles on my face or body, but I have several lip freckles and they drive me totally nuts. The sun tends to make them darker so I usually layer all sorts of balms on them. But Bobbi Brown Treatment Lip Shine SPF 15 is a fresh alternative! It imparts color (quite a bit!), shine and sun protection. They’re lovely.

I’ve been using Garnier’s Triple Nutrition Nutrient Spray for about a few weeks now and I’m obsessed! It’s a blend of olive, avocado and shea oils and can be used on dry or damp hair.It’s truly weightless and I can really tell the difference when I use it. I use it about halfway through my blow dry in the morning and my hair feels so silky the rest of the day. It’s perfect for the beach to help combat dryness.

I usually carry around a small soft cooler with me to keep my beverages cold. And this time, I’ll also be storing my Bath & Body Works Cooling Mist in Deep Aqua. It is so refreshing, especially when its ice cold. It contains aloe and is an overall great blast of hydration. Plus, it smells fantastic and let’s be honest, sweat happens at the beach.

So those are the products I’m toting around for a day at the beach. What about you, any must-haves? Let us know! And we also wish you a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!

DISCLOSURE: We received samples of  Bobbi Brown Treatment Lip Shine and Tarte Matte Waterproof Bronzer

Product Girl Faves: The Best of Spring Beauty

Spring weather is here, which means summer beauty is soon to be in full-swing. But before we start lathering on sunscreen and bronzer, we thought we’d give a nod to our favorite products from spring, before they disappear from counters and lose that top spot in our makeup bags. We may say this every season, but there were so many amazing beauty products in spring collections. It really was very difficult to narrow down the best of the best. But here goes, in no particular order…

Chanel Spring 2010 Collection – this Chanel Spring collection had us at “hello”, it is classic and totally wearable. It was packed full of neutral shades ranging from pink and beige to warm brown and khaki, shades that would look good on any woman. We loved practically everything about it, including the now famous Le Vernis in Particuliere. This is the greige nail color that started it all a few months ago and was all the rage. We definitely fell for it and even found a great dupe along the way.

Laura Mercier Radiant Creme Cheek ColorProduct Girl should almost be synonymous with “addicted to highlighters.” We really have a thing for them and this lovely creme highlighter from Laura Mercier’s Polished collection is well, radiant. Three-fourth’s of the pan is a peachy pink highlighter, a tiny strip of metallic gold and the remaining fourth is a cranberry red. Mixed together it is a beautiful blush, but it’s almost too pretty to do that so we’ve been playing it safe and using it primarily as a highlighter and lovely it is.

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