product review

3 Drugstore Beauty Buys, Upgraded

When it comes to my beauty regimen, I'll test anything. From DIYing a goopy egg and olive oil hair mask to getting a spermine facial and of course, I never hesitate to bring on the chemicals. I even found that slathering oil all over my face is possibly the best thing I've ever done for my skin.  However, just like with anything in life, I have my basics.  The tried and true, never fail products that just get the job done.  Some of my favorites underwent a makeover and you'll be grabbing them off of drugstore shelves in no time.

Cetaphil - The gentle skin cleanser is now available in wipes!  It's the same, gentle, yet effective formula that you're used to in a cleansing cloths form.  Unlike other wipes, these are about 30% bigger and have no scent.  I brought them home from the launch event and my fiance already stole them.

Clear Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy - When this first came out about two years ago, it became the Cetaphil for my hair.  A staple fixture in my shower that became part of my shampoo and conditioner rotation.  The basic scalp nourishing products expanded their range and now offer an Intense Hydration line.

Secret- As a Clinical Strength user, the brand just launched a new collection of Invisible Solids inspired by Brazil, Paris and Hawaii that are doing the trick.  To test out their 48 hour claim, I recently went on a Brazilian adventure through NYC to put it to the test and it hasn't failed. Rainforest Mist is the right scent for me, as it's light and refreshing.

5 Favorites

  I've always used the same products before starting to work in this industry with Jeannine, which was typically just whatever my mom brought home. Now, I have a whole new perspective on beauty products thanks to all the opportunities to test so many different ones. Here are some of my favorites from simple foundations to gorgeous lipsticks.  Yes, I'm sure you'll find a few newbies to put on your shopping list.

I received Blow Pro Blow Out Spray hairspray at an event for Jeannine last summer and now it’s the only hairspray I’ll use. I never really liked to use hairspray except for prom or homecoming. It made my soft hair sticky and crunchy. I feel like this hairspray does the complete opposite. It holds without creating that awful crunchy effect a lot of hairspray has. If your looking for a spray that gives you a solid hold while maintaining volume and movement, this is stuff to use.

BareMinerals is pretty well known for their loose mineral powder but I love their compact powder. It goes on smooth without coating my face in a thick layer of makeup. It also covers up blemishes while keeping my face looking almost makeup-free. If people think that’s just how naturally smooth my skin is, I’m not going to be the one to correct them.

I like to use Shiseido Sun Protection Compact Foundation for days at the beach or pool. It’s a compact cream foundation with SPF 36 in it. It blends smoothly and gives a great matte finish without looking like a heavy coat of makeup.  I have a hard time using sunscreen on my face because of my sensitive skin and this is a great alternative. The fact that it gives my face a high SPF coverage while hiding blemishes makes it a great summer product.


Hourglass Liquid Lipstick is another find I can credit to my internship and an event. This collection of liquid lipsticks are seriously one the best of the colored lip products I own. The colors are so youthfully beautiful I would be crazy not to love them. I typically like to add a light gloss finish over them for a little extra pop. While theses lipsticks do fade during wear, they tend to do it without smudging all over your face, which is good enough for me!


I squeezed ever last drop out of my Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Body Butter. Every time I wore it people would stop me to compliment my scent. I kid you not. Not even just once, it happened multiple times. People would walk in the subway car and ask who smelled so good. Even on the streets on NYC waiting to cross a woman asked what it was I was wearing. Not only is the smell invigorating but I loved the way it made my skin look and feel. It made my legs shimmer and glow without looking greasy. If you asked me a year ago to talk about my favorite lotion, I would be confused what there was to even say, until I used this one.

A Shadow Palette Worth Buying, Yes, You'll Use Every Shade

If there's one eyeshadow palette you need it's the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette.  Last week when I received a mailing from the brand with all of their latest launches I anxiously focused on the palette and opened it to see what the upgrade was because their first Naked palette was a huge hit. Consisting of 12 shades ranging from neutral to black it encompasses eight metallic and four matte shades that help to make up that I believe every woman should have in her cosmetic case and yes, they're universally flattering.  Because of the range you can make your eyes look as natural or dramatic as you want.  The upgrade?  Five new shades mixed within and a double ended shadow brush.  The full size mirror is always a plus.

This one's to covet and going right in my makeup case!  You can find the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette at Sephora for $50.

The Results Are In! The Skincare Products I'm Loving Right Now

Back in February I posted about taking a trip to Sephora to have my skin analyzed by DDF's Skin Evaluation System.  Of course I knew I was fighting fine lines and had some discoloration, but what I found out was that my main concern should be my pores!  Since then, I've been testing a variety of DDF skincare products (never mind being super self conscious about my ugly pores) and had to share the results. By far the one that's been making the most difference for my skin is the Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturizing Serum.  As soon as I put it on it was like the Angels came down and sang from Heaven.  Thanks to the silicone, my pores were instantly non-existant.  Granted, it rids pores just for the time being, but for that I apply it daily after I wash my face and before I put on my moisturizer.  It's really light weight and it also has a cocktail of Vitamins to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Another product I'm really impressed with is their Revolve 400x.  As an avid Clarisonic user, I was skeptical to use something else, but hey, that's my job.  It comes with two different brush heads.  One to act as a microdermabrasion treatment and the other is for deep cleansing, which I use almost every day.  I like that it has two different strengths and feel so fresh faced after doing an at-home microdermabrasion.  When I met with Giulianna Rancic in February this was her favorite DDF product and she has awesome skin.

*This is a sponsored post, but my opinions and actions are honest.

I Rid My Blackheads Without A Facial Thanks to A Middle School Throwback

One the things that irritate me the most in this world are blackheads.  They're more stubborn than my boyfriend when he knows he's right I swear!  I hate having them and when I notice them on other people all I want to do is start trying to squeeze them out.  Gross, I know, but seriously, what's worse in skincare than a noticeably clogged pore?  Before I was reminded of this middle school throw back, I always had to have a facialist extract them.  Yet today, in my own bathroom I was in awe thanks to Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips. They're back!  Do you remember obsessing over them in middle school?  I used to use them often and then forgot they existed for a while until I was recently sent a bag of Biore's latest product collection to test out.  I immediately pulled out one of the strips, recalling the fact that I thought they worked, but now as a beauty guru I wanted to really see.  Here's what I tweeted upon removal:

I don't remember dissecting my Biore black head pad THIS much when I was a teenager... #beautygirlproblems

After sitting with the strip on my nose for ten minutes, I peeled it off (and quickly remembered the ouch factor like ripping off a bandaid) and sure enough there were blackheads sticking to the white strip.  They stood up and almost looked like a plucked eyebrow hair with a root (but much smaller).  After dissecting the strip I took to the mirror and was satisfied with my cleansed pores.

Check out Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips at drugstores.

My New Weekly Routine Involves Peeling Off A Tar Like Substance from My Face

When I visited LA last month I stopped by Kravetz PR to check out some of Rodial skincare's latest launches and as soon as my publicist friend introduced me to their newest face mask my eyes widened and I think the words, "Give me that!" came out of my mouth.  Rude?  No, I couldn't wait to use it!  Introducing the Rodial Glamoxy Snake Mask... Get this, it's a black, peel off face mask that contains liquorice to help brighten your skin and minerals that help to deep clean your pores.  It also includes Syn-ake (hence the name), which is a peptide that mimics a viper's venom to help your muscles relax (like Botox in a bottle).  A black, peel off face mask with benefits?  Now that sounded like a fun Sunday night activity!

I thinly applied the jet black tar-like mask all over my face and tried to avoid getting any of it on my bathroom sink.  I liked that it was so inky as opposed to the clear, whitish and green face masks I normally do.  This was far from spa-like.  I'm also one of those people (even though I know better) who believe that if something smells strong, it's working.  It's a mental thing.  Throughout the application, I couldn't ignore the smell of chemicals.  It wasn't pleasant (like fresh linens or anything), but I liked it.  It made me think it would be effective.  As it dried, the scent disinegrated and the mask hardened.  Twenty minutes later, I challenged myself to attempting to peel it off in piece, which was a misearable fail, but I'll conquer it next time.

My skin felt very tight, appeared clean and illuminated after I applied moisturizer.  The recommended use is two times a week and I plan on continuing for the benefits and the peel factor.  You can get it at, but use it sparingly as it only takes a very thin layer to cover your entire face and the tiny 50ml tube is not cheap.

Latest Obsessions: Maybelline Expands Dream Collection

When Maybelline comes out with a new collection I always find something to obsess over and this one's no different.  As someone who loves the light-weight dewey, glow of their Dream Mousse Bronzer I was estatic to find that Dream Nude Airfoam and Dream Bouncy Blush were two of their latest additions and so was my skin! The Dream Nude Airfoam is a super light-weight foundation that's predominantly made up of air, but still offers great coverage.  I pump it out onto the back of my hand (one pump is enough for my whole face) and use the fingertips on my other hand to apply.  Because it's foam, it absorbs super quickly and doesn't offer a lot of blending time, so I recommend you work in small sections.  Bonus: It has SPF 16.

I'm just as obsessed with the consistency of the Dream Bouncy Blush.  Bouncy is everything.  Delicate to touch, I apply to the apples of my cheeks with my finger tips for a nice wash of color.  It's a powder formulation that blends and sinks into your skin like a cream, only lighter.

Maybelline Dream Nude Airfoam will be available in 12 shades for $10.99 and Dream Bouncy Blush will be available in 10 shades for $7.99 each. Both products will be available at drugstores in January.

Things That Make Me Go... WOW... Suave Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo

As a frequent user of dry shampoo I've tried and tested them all.  Too stiff, too white, too chalky and the list of issues goes on especially for someone like me with fine, dark hair.  It should come as no surprise that I found my favorite, but of course as soon as I was getting comfortable I was thrown for a loop.  A package came last week introducing me to a new one, Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo. First and foremost, it smells good!  Not like a good hair product, but fresh. Exactly how you'd want your hair to smell if you needed to use dry shampoo.  It sprays out clear, which is key so you don't have to worry about trying to blend in what looks like baby powder on your roots and bottom line – it really works.  Oil is absorbed from your roots and it provides the right amount of texture for styling.

The keratin addition helps to smooth your hair and keep more manageable as you style.  I sometimes blast my roots with dry shampoo even after I wash and blow dry my hair just for the added texture.  This one is perfect for that.  You can find it at drugstores for under $5.

Skinceuticals New Gel Based Serums Impress

Despite the fact that I mostly write about the pretty things, at heart I'm a true science nerd and skincare junkie.  Learning about ingredients, upgrades in product technology and delivery systems excite me more than finding out how much the newest Chanel polish is going for on eBay. Therefore, I feel it's only right to dish about a new two products I'm using – Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel and AOX Eye Gel.  Why?  Because I know a thing or two about effective products and I want good skin. I've always used a form of a Vitamin C serum and if you don't yet, you should.  It's a powerful antioxidant that helps promote collagen while fighting free radicals.  The Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel includes Vitamin C and also Frulic Acid and Phloretin, which are antioxidants as well, you just don't recognize the names because they don't sound as sexy as "gogiberry" and "pomegranate" so the media doesn't really talk about them.  Truth is, these three ingredients are super potent and penetrate deeper into the skin than most.

The AOX Eye Gel is technically the same formulation at a lower concentration (since the skin around your eye area is more delicate) with added caffeine and an ingredient called ruscus aculeatus, a super fancy name for evergreen shrub that helps to reduce puffiness under the eyes.

When it comes to skincare I use a combination of drugstore and more expensive products because I'm super picky about what I put on my face so I'll use what works for me.  While these are a bit expensive, I believe in them because I believe in the science behind them and can say so far, so good.  I use them once a day in the morning under my moisturizer and SPF. I also like that they have a gel base so the serum doesn't get runny on my face.  You can find them at

Hello Sexy! Redken Introduces Loose Ends for Men

When I first found out about Redken's new product for men called Loose Ends, I wasn't exactly sure what type of man would use it until I saw a photo of their model for the campaign and it clicked – that type of man – the guy with Matthew McConaughey hair!  Ladies, if you're dating a guy like that you're clearly dating him for his hair (hey, no judgement here!) so hook him up with this pomade.   “Loose ends is a great product for men with a little length in their hair who want some definition but without weight,” says Jenny Balding, Redken For Men Consultant.

It's a liquid pomade that adds a bit of definition and texture without any sticky or goopy feel, which is key.  Since my boyfriend keeps his hair short, I never thought about what guys with this hair type use, but of course you may need to know!  Just when you thought food was the key to a man's heart, you find out it may be as simple as the right hair goop!

Redken for Men Loose Ends Liquid Pomade, $17.60, is sold at professional salons.

Latest Obsession: Nars Night Series Nail Polish

I guess you can say I dove into fall with a new lacquer – the Nars Night Series Polish in Night Flight.  It's barely Labor Day Weekend and I couldn't help myself. Generally, I'd rather wear dark red-tinged shade on my nails than something clean and light, so when I faced my weekly choice of nail colors right before summer's last Jersey Shore harah, I couldn't bring myself to put a "fun" bright coral across my tips just for the occasion.

As soon as I first laid eyes on the Nars Night Series collection I knew it was special.  I'm talking really special.  My favorite, Night Flight, is a perfect midnight blue speckled with evenly distributed sparkles that look super luxe. Other shades include Night Rider (pink), Night Porter (olive green) and Night Breed (black).

Bond No. 9 Launches I Love NY Collection

Known for their fragrances inspired by the unique neighborhoods of New York, Bond No. 9 just launched an I Love New York collection.  To be honest, I'm surprised they didn't do this sooner! My first Bond No. 9 fragrance was their Nuits de Noho candle.  I'll never forget receiving it and coveting it for months as it sat displayed out on my book shelf after the candle burnt down just because it resembled NYC and I loved what it stood for – the upbeat edginess of downtown.

The I Love NY collection has a perfume, cologne and a unisex scent.  The perfume is blended with fruit and floral notes such as mandarin zest, spicy nutmeg and blueberry accord layered with roses, pink peonies, patchouli and grounded by musk, vanilla, sandalwood and leather accord.

If you like it when your man wears musky colognes, you may like this one. It contains notes such as patchouli, leather, sandalwood, musk and amber topped by ginger, juniper berry and lavender.

The unisex scent is my favorite (I'm not a fruity floral lover) as it's full of more grounded notes.  Bergamot, muguet and pepper are layered over cocoa, coffee beans and creamy chestnut.  Patchouli, vanilla, leatherwood and sandalwood finish it off.

*Available Sept. 18th

Coach Poppy Mixes Up Its Bouquet with Poppy Flower

When Coach first launched the Poppy collection one of the first things I thought was that I wanted to be friends with the poppy girl.  Who doesn't want to be friends with the poppy girl!? With the image of the poppy girl in mind, Coach reinvented it's youthful scent taking it from a fresh citrus blend to a more fruity floral with Coach Poppy Flower.  Notes of citrus, lychee, and cassis open the scent and are then layered with jasmine, water lily and rose all grounded by musky peony and amberwood.

“The Poppy girl is bright and bold—and instantly memorable," comments Karyn Koury, Estee Lauder Companies Senior Vice President of Corporate Fragrance Developmen

Flirt! Big Flirt Sheer & Shiny Lipgloss Review

Bigger is always better.  No?  Come on ladies, admit it.  If you're with me (and I know you are) then you're going to love my latest find – Flirt! Big Flirt Sheer and Shiny Lipgloss, $15.50.

I always choose lip glosses in pale pink or berry shades that have just enough stick factor to them to make them last, but not nearly enough to allow my hair get caught.  If the tube is tiny, that's normally looked at as a bonus because it fits into any clutch and sometimes just my wallet when I carry it around.

Well, this lip gloss has the right texture and is available eight shades (my favorite is Big Pink Kisses), but is enormous!  When you pop the brush out of the tube all of the color is concentrated on the top and sinks into your lips upon application.  The tube is .37 oz, which is more than double the typical lip gloss we normally buy (think Bobbi Brown or Lancome) and I'm obsessed with the huge brush and never lose it in my purse.

*Available at Kohls or on in August

New Mascara Reviews: CoverGirl NatureLuxe & Hourglass Film Noir

If you're anything like me you've gone to the store, become completely overwhelmed by the insane amounts cosmetic brands that fill the aisles and chances are you're just looking for something that shouldn't seem so damn hard to find.  Take mascara for example.  Now there's a gamble!  Here are some of my takes on two of the latest launches. CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mascara, $7 at drugstores

The claim: Discover luxurious volume that feels light as air. We took out a heavy synthetic and put in a light touch of beeswax — for luxurious lashes that are 20% lighter* with 2X more volume!

The truth: It is more natural than their other mascaras, but not all natural.  The brand is definitely taking a step in the right direction.  The mouse-like formula is super light so my lashes felt very flutter-like.  After two coats, my lashes looked clean, evenly separated and coated with no clumps. Even though it's water resistant, taking it off was a cinch. Overall, if you're looking for a mascara that simply enhances your natural lashes but doesn't take them to the next level, this is it.

Hourglass Film Noir Mascara, $28 at Sephora

The claim: Film Noir's signature hourglass-shaped brush is designed for optimal application, adding volume, length, lift, and separation to lashes. The intense concentration of Panthenol (ProVitamin B5) adds a reflective, jet-black sheen for dramatic impact.

The truth: After two careful coats my lashes looked the way I want them to for a night out in the city.  Volume?  Check.  Length?  Check.  And no flakes (which I sometimes get underneath my eyes).  The only thing that I had to be very careful with was coating the inner and outer corners of my eyes.  Since the brush is shaped like an hourglass, it's thick on the top and therefore difficult to use.  Let's just say a Q-tip came in hand for some clean up.  If you're looking for sexy, dramatic oh-la-la lashes, this is the mascara for you.

Sneak Peek: Also launching from Hourglass is their Film Noir Lash Lacquer on July 15th.  I got to test it out and yes, it does what it clams.  It's a coat that you can apply on top of your regular mascara to make your lashes appear wet and shiny.  I think it looks kind of sexy and model-like.  You can also use it alone without mascara and it acts as a subtle tint.

The Art of Fragrance and Seduction

I'm super picky when it comes to scent.  Typically I don't like using scented products and love amber or vanilla fragranced candles or maybe a light spritz on my decolletage for nighttime.  However, with my profession, there will be some days where I smell like a concoction of scents for better or worse. When it comes to fragrance and seduction there are many different scents that are credited to turning men on, but according to research conducted by the Monell Chemical Senses Center the sexiest ones are those that bring out a woman's natural scent.  The gems – rose, musk, mint, green apple and oak moss.

Leave it to Victoria's Secret to create a scent that blended the top five sexiest notes.  Their Wild One Fragrance Mist is light and also combines raspberry and Lilly.

A $1,500 Giveaway to Rid Cellulite, Really!

I'm really excited because this is the biggest giveaway I've ever done in BeautySweetSpot history!  Being that it's summer time I figured I'd give you something that will help fight the one problem we all have – cellulite, but it helps much more than that. I'm giving away a Wellbox, an at-home lipomassage and liftmassage device that works on your body to smooth cellulite, firm skin and help sculpt stubborn areas.  On the face, it helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles and restore definition (think turkey neck).

It probably sounds too good to be true, but I was first introduced to the Wellbox when I worked for Cosmopolitan and learned that results show over time with repeated use.  It works through micro-pulsations that stimulate the skin.

Want one?  I'm giving one away and it retails for $1,500!  Find out how to win after the jump!

Comment below telling me why YOU need the Wellbox.

LIKE BeautySweetSpot on Facebook.

ReTweet the giveaway all week on Twitter @beautysweetspot and @wellboxusa.

The winner will be selected at random and announced once I reach 6,000 Twitter followers (I'm almost there)! Good Luck!

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A New Additive to My Regimen: Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning

I've been on a self tanning testing kick for the past two months because I was writing an article called "The Best Way to Bronze" for iVillage so I have a slew of product.  Lately I've been using something that I have to tell you about – Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning, $32.50. Normally I'm skeptical to apply different self tanning products, especially creams, to my face in fear of break outs, but I was so pale I thought I'd give it a go.  After all, this is my job.  I love it.  I apply it as finishing touch to my skincare and as the beginning step to applying your makeup (which really just consists of bronzer).

The creamy consistency almost acts as a primer smoothing out my skin and instantly adds a natural glow that washes right off.  Bottom line, it gets the job done. You can get it here.

Check Out My Partnership with Lancome

I'm so excited to share this video I created in partnership with Lancome!  I was chosen as one of the brands top 20 beauty and style bloggers to participate in a video series in conjunction with the Style Coalition, a network of prestige bloggers.  They sent me the Lancome Color Design 5 Pan Palette in Amethyst Glam and I was asked to create a short film about how the colors inspire me. I was lucky to get the Amethyst palette as the only color I wear on my eyes is purple because it brings out the green in my hazel. The colors were vibrant much like my fast paced NYC lifestyle, which inspired my video.

I think it's cute, but let's just say that filming it wasn't!  Since I'm freelance and most of my friends have full time jobs I often find myself asking complete strangers on the streets of NYC for favors throughout the day.  Yes, even to film me walking down the street smelling flowers and sitting on park benches.  Take a look...

Each day for 20 days there will be a new video based around Lancome's new palettes so check out what my friends have to say too and if you're a social media junkie like me, follow Lancome on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

*This post is sponsored.

Introducing a Retinol with Instant Gratification: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Collection

Retinol has been and still is the most powerful anti-aging ingredient on the market.  Not only does it reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but it also improves your skins tone, texture and pigmentation.  When using a prescription strength or over the counter retinol, the earliest you'll start noticing results is in about three to four weeks, but Neutrogena just launched something that will give you instant gratification.  After all, isn't that what we're all seeking? When you're young your cellular turn over rate is every 21 days and as you age it's about every 40 days, which is why your skin starts to look dull.  Therefore, the earliest products kick in is about 21 days depending on your age.  Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Line claims to use "accelerated retinol" so you'll see results in just one week, and yes, studies prove that women saw results that quick, which encouraged them to continue using the product.

Even though the main ingredient is retinol, the quick results came from a water extract that helps to repair your skin's barrier, therefore making it look better in a short amount of time.  The retinol sinks deeper into your skin and its effects kick in as they normally would, a few weeks later after continued use.  So is the retinol working faster, no, but Neutrogena found a way to give women what they want – instant results and efficacy over time.