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Beauty, Life,

How Aspire Life Products Revolutionized My Beauty Routine

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Sixty days ago I completely changed my skincare routine as an experiment which in turn changed my skin for life. I had been using Aspire Life face sunscreen daily as a part of my routine but wanted to try their entire daily routine skincare line.  Since I loved the weightless moisturizing feel of the sunscreen, it was an easy decision to try their other products. When I reach out to Clyde, founder and owner, I didn’t know it would soon change my complexion to a brighter and clearer version of my face.

Clyde has the most inspiring story.  After a near death experience as a single father he felt the need to create authentic and honest skincare products.  Clyde had spent a majority of his life as a cosmetic ingredient developer, an important constant he can assure consumers is that Vitamin C may not a glamorous ingredient but it is truly the best antioxidant for the skin.  This bit of information has stuck with me as it is a large part of the natural and honest ingredients and science behind Aspire Life.

After receiving the products, I immediately started the four step routine for morning and night. Within two weeks I started to notice my Melasma disappear. Now, my forehead is nearly completely clear and my face is brightening with each use. Melasma is a common skincare problem that causes brown patches on the face is typically on onset of birth control.  I made the decision years ago to change my medication habits and try to clear my skin.  Until Aspire life, nothing really worked. Often skincare lines that clear Melasma are very strong and can cause breakouts or over oily skin. Aspire Life’s approach to skin care is simple:  safe and effective.

Products Used:

Brightening Essence: To be used on dark spots to reduce discoloration and to even skin tone after cleansing $50

The Brightening Essence provides the following skin care benefits and functionalities:

  • Calming
  • Environmental pollution protection
  • MMP inhibition
  • Reduce hyperpigmentation
  • Reduces irritation
  • Reduces melanogenesis
  • Restores suppleness
  • Suppressor of melanocytes
  • Slows the skin’s aging process
  • UV protection
  • Even skin’s tone
  • Repairs sun damage and sun spots

Essential Essence: A water based moisturizer to be used after cleansing in the morning and night all over face and neck $40

The Essential Essence addresses and provides for the following:

  • Acne relief and prevention
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Anti-oxidant
  • Anti-wrinkle
  • Collagen building
  • Pollution protection
  • Natural lipid stimulator
  • Makes skin luxuriously smooth and supple
  • Rebuilds the skin’s outer layers
  • Reduces & prevents sun spots
  • Reduces irritation
  • Restores skin’s immune system
  • Skin clarifying
  • Slows the skin’s aging process
  • Supplement DNA repair

Complete Sunscreen: This was the first product I used from Aspire Life, now I’m hooked. The sunscreen is light and feels more like a serum since it is water based. $30

Gentle Foaming Cleanser: This is a very gentle foaming cleanser. It works very well to remove dirt and makeup that your skin retained during the day. $15

The complete set is available for $130 at

Would you use Aspire Life products on your skin? Or have you before? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

beauty products to get you through the winter
Beauty, Life,

Beauty Products to Get You Through the Winter

I belong to an awesome “club” of sorts, called Influenster. People (mostly bloggers), with a lot of influence (measured by social reach), have the opportunity to be matched with different campaigns and try different products.

Earlier this month, I was sent a box filled with health and beauty products. For the most part, I’ve incorporated them into my daily routine. Here are my thoughts on each one:

Botanics Organic Hydrating Day Cream


Retail: $12.99

I’ve been getting into facial creams lately, as I’m told now is about the time my skin will start turning against me. Besides that, my skin turns super scaly in the winter and quite frankly, can use all the help it can get.

What I like about this cream is that it wakes you right up with invigorating minty essential oils. What I like less is the texture. It’s not as smooth as you’d expect. Overall, I would still use this cream to start my morning in a refreshing way.

Foot Petals: Killer Kushionz


Retail: $12.95

I’ll take any help I can get when wearing heels. These are perfect if you’re like me and save heels only for special occasions, and complain about it the whole time.

SinfulColors SinfulShine Nail Polish

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 8.36.33 PM

Retail: $2.99

I had such high hopes for this nail polish. I like that it’s a two step system that supposedly gives you gel-like nail consistency. But there weren’t any special directions, and I messed up my first manicure by not knowing how many coats were needed. The pigment was good, but the texture was not what I would describe as gel-like. And it chipped easier than my regular polish of choice.

Good Health Veggie Straws


Retail: $3.99 for 6.75oz

When I eat junk food, I go all out. So when someone tries to get me to eat healthy “junk food,” I tend to have my guard up. I shared these with a health-crazy friend and she absolutely loved them. I wasn’t stoked – they were pretty bland and tasteless. I think it just depends on your relationship with food.

Soapbox Shampoo & Conditioner


Retail: $5.99 for 16oz

This shampoo and conditioner smell so fresh and leave my hair so soft. I love that there’s a TOMs-like mission behind the brand. For every product you buy, they donate product to people in need. The price is pretty fair considering the social-consciousness and size.

Yogi Tea


Retail: $4.99 for 16 count

Yogi Tea is consistently among the best I’ve ever tried. I’m a huge tea fan and theirs gets my stamp of approval.

Not Your Mother’s Whip it Up Cream Styling Mousse


Retail: $3 for 2.1oz, $7 for 7oz

You don’t need a lot of product for va-va-voom volume. It smells like cupcakes. It works, but don’t overdo it!

Would you try any of these products?

Please note: I received these products for free to review.

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Beauty, Reviews, Subscription Boxes,

Target Beauty Box: A Subscription Box Review

Target Beauty Box Subscription Box

You can find a subscription box for almost anything – pets, alcohol, kids, food… and beauty. Subscription boxes have become my favorite way to discover new products. They also offer an incredible value – at least the reputable ones do. For a low monthly recurring payment, you get products curated by experts for less than they would cost separately. As the nature of this blog is finding deals on a budget, I’m starting a series for reviewing subscription boxes.

The Target Beauty Box is one of my favorite “subscription” boxes. It comes out periodically (once every few months) and can’t be bought on a subscription, but is worth keeping track of.

Target Beauty Box Subscription Box

The Target Beauty Box I’m reviewing contained the following items:

CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara by Lashblast ($6 Value, thanks to My Subscription Addiction for values)

I love that Target Beauty Boxes almost always include a full-size mascara sample, because mascara gets gross after no more than a few months. The brands they include are always top drugstore mascara brands, and this box is no exception.

Fekkai Pre-Soleil Hair Mist ($6.80)

I actually got this same sample in a previous Target Beauty Box. It’s a nice addition to your hair care regiment for the summer, because it protects your hair for the sun. It’s light and smells fresh.

Hair Food Moisturizing Mask ($12 Value)

I’m a big fan of hair moisturizing and deep conditioning treatments. My hair needs them at least once a week, and the results are more than worth the extra time in the shower. So I was really excited that this full-sized product was included in this Target Beauty Box!

Olay Active Botanicals Moisturizing Toner ($1.80 Value)

I don’t usually use many beauty products, and toner is not something that’s been a part of my routine, to date. I’m excited to try this product and see if it makes a difference!

Olay Active Botanicals Day Lotion ($3.60 Value)

This facial lotion is so light and fresh… I honestly think I may have found my new preferred face lotion!

Crest 3D Whitestrips 1hr Express ($11.25 Value)

I’ve used Crest Whitestrips in the past and they’re annoying to wear, but they really do look. I’ve been drinking a lot more tea lately, so I was glad to get this sample!

Total Value: $41.45 (with an added value of $3 off coupon for Target Beauty purchases)

What I love about Target Beauty Boxes is that they contain so much value that I actually go out and buy the items I like at full price after I’ve used them up. I can think of at least one item from each box I’ve gotten that I really loved, and several more that are fun to test out and have around, even if I don’t use them everyday.

I’m not someone who usually gets excited about beauty products, but the Target Beauty Box has so many fun and useful things at an incredible price. You also get a $3 off $15 coupon to use towards any beauty purchase at Target in every box!

Have you bought a Target Beauty Box? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Beauty, Life, Shopping,

Why You Should Use e.l.f. Cosmetics

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Hopefully, by now you’ve heard of e.l.f. Cosmetics.  A few years ago a wise friend let me in on the secret of this great makeup brand that could completely revamp your goods for less than a Sunday brunch.   E.l.f Cosmetics price point is likely it’s largest draw for the quality of product selling primarily at $1, $3, and $6.  The product line is not limited to mineral based makeup but also include skin-care products, brushes, eyelashes, tools and more.

This brand is largely a part of my spend vs. splurge makeup substitutes.  Makeup is expensive and can easily break the bank so when I run out of something and need a quick replacement (like an eyebrow pencil) I immediately go to e.l.f.  Don’t be shocked when you fall in love with this brand, especially their eyelashes.  The products are shockingly impressive for the price.  They go on smooth, last all day and look amazing – is there more we ask for in a brand?  If that wasn’t enough, they’re socially responsible with 100% cruelty free products, support Breast Cancer Awareness, PETA and other vital relief funds.

If you’re running low on a product or just simply want to try e.l.f., they are offering free Shipping sitewide with any order. There are two offers valid today (8/25) through the end of the month:

Free Shipping no minimum purchase with code SHIP4FREE! Valid on 8/25/15 only.

Going on now: free shipping on ALL e.l.f. orders! No code needed, valid 8/26/15-8/31/15!

Do you use e.l.f. cosmetics? What are your favorite products?

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Beauty, Life,

Faux Tanning For Dummies

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For the last two months I’ve sacrificed my body to test multiple faux tanning products. I received many odd looks at my streaky skin and several comments from friends about my inconsistent skin color. It was all worth it to find the most effective faux tanning solution for any time of year.

With my fair and sensitive skin, products react differently on my body than most people but there is a process for application regardless of your skin type or product.

Step 1: Always exfoliate. Scrub away dead skin cells while paying close attention to your knees, elbows, ankles and heels.

Step 2: Moisturize. Excess tanner will grab onto dead skin which often lies in those obvious areas along your elbows, knees and heels.

Step 3: Start with your arms when applying your price of choice. Then to your shoulders and wrists, this avoids dense areas of product at your hand and wrist area. Cover your legs starting with your thighs to the tops of your feet. I always apply to stomach and chest last.

Step 4: Throughly rinse your hands to remove tanner from creases.

Trick: add a small amount of product to the tops of your hands and blend.

Now that you know what to do, here are some product reviews to help you decide what to use!

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Tan Towel
Price: $20 for two body and two face towels at Sephora
Rating: One Star
Review: The tan towel product works miracles on some people, but not me. The tan towel is meant to be applied the night before. Tan towels are a colorless and nearly odorless disposable towel. They leave embarrassing inconsistencies on my skin, making the fake tan look extremely obvious and disproportioned. It also leaves my skin very warm while the product is setting in.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: St. Tropez Bronzing Foam
Rating: Two Stars
Price: $12 at Ulta
Review: St. Tropez is an amazing and trustworthy brand, so I had to try their Bronzing Foam. The results were mediocre. It’s not the best self tanner I’ve ever used, but it’s not the worst. The scent was extremely strong to the point it was waking me up at night. The application was easy and essentially fool-proof, leaving little to no streaks. I would recommend this product if you don’t mind the odor.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Avene Moisturizing Self Tanning Lotion
Price: $28 on Amazon
Rating: One Star
Review: This lotion goes on odorless and colorless, but unfortunately leaves endless streaks similar to my issues with the tan towel. It also leaves my skin warmer than usual. Application is fairly simple with a detailed guide to the amount of lotion that should be applied per each area of your body. All in all, I would not use this product again.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Neutrogena Micro Mist Airbrush Sunless Tan
Price: $15 at CVS (In the sunscreen section)
Rating: Five Stars
Review: I love and live by this product. Spray the mist directly onto clean, dry skin, keeping the can about six inches away from your body. The mist is almost impossible to mess up or cause streaking. Even better, it has no scent after application. It leaves a beautiful glow on your skin and can be applied several times per week. As always, be cautious about ankles and elbows.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
Price: $14 at CVS
Rating: Five Stars
Review: This is one of my favorite products year-round. When you need a touch of color any time of the year this is your product. Apply as your daily lotion and watch as your skin shows a subtle tan over the next seven days. Also available in firming body lotion and face lotion.

Have you tried any other faux-tanning beauty products? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Beauty, Life,

Guide: Sunscreen for Every Occasion this Summer

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When it comes to summer, there’s one golden rule of thumb – bottom line, always wear sunscreen. After burning one too many times, I’ve become a big advocate of sunscreen and faux tanning methods. Everyone’s skin tone is different: I have extremely sensitive and fair skin. Your level of protection will vary, but always use something.


I apply 50-70 SPF daily before moisturizing. Even if your moisturizer and makeup have SPF, it’s usually not good enough. I use Aspire Life from Che Sguardo in River North. It’s a small family owned business that caters to makeup artists. Kathy is an expert when it comes to beauty, makeup and skincare.  Aspire Life sunscreen works as a moisturizer as well as a sunscreen – two in one!  I love it because it doesn’t over saturate your face but rather works like a serum.  Sometimes traditional sunscreen can be dense and leave oil that causes blemishes. Protect your skin the right way, don’t make it worse!

Pool and beach days:

I use 70 SPF Neutrogena Sport which is a bit heavier but for full sun days, it’s important to stay protected and wash your face after being in the sun. Don’t forget – the water reflects the sun which ups your chances of getting burned!


I use anywhere from 30-50 SPF with several applications throughout the day. Don’t forget your ears, the tops of your feet and back. The past few years, I’ve been using the spray sunscreens. It’s a more even application without that embarrassing hand print or missing section. And there’s no reason not to do it when application is so easy!

What’s your sunscreen routine? Let us know in the comments!

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Beauty, Life,

4th of July Beauty Essentials

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Independence Day should be all about freedom. Freedom from work, responsibilities and worries.This holiday should be spent in a pool, on a beach or floating in a lake. Keep your beauty and skin routine as simple as your weekend.

Here are my Fourth of July essentials:

Neutrogena Sport Face Spf 70 ($7) 


Full sun, partly cloudly or cloudy I apply sunscreen.  I’ve learned the hard way that the sun will burn you when you least expect it.  This is my favorite sunscreen for an active day. Protecting your face is the most important part of your routine, so reapply when necessary or at least every three to four hours.

Jao Refresher ($10 at Che Sguardo and other beauty stores) 

This little bottle is a portable sink.  Not just for your hands as a sanitizer but can also be used as a zit zapper, body splash, after shave and deodorant!  I always keep a bottle of this in my purse for emergencies making it perfect for a scorching 4th of July weekend!

Neutrogena Micro Mist Airbrush Sunless Tan ($15) – stay tuned for my sunless tanner review!


I’m in love with this mist.  I’ve tried countless different types of sunless tanner.  This nearly odorless spray requires very little effort. Just spray it on your skin after you shower and let it dry.  In 8 hours you’ll be two-three shades darker.  The spray without blending sits on your skin naturally, avoiding any blotches.

Red White Blue & Sparkle OPI & Orly nail polish ($9 each) 

Stop wasting money on manicures, you’re a fully capable human and can do your own nails. My trick is in the top coat (Seche Vite $9 at Sally’s Beauty Supplies).  Everyone’s nail beds are different.  Find out what nail polish brand works best for you and stick with it.Kms California:  Hairplay Sea Salt Spray ($12) 

Keep your hair wavy and beach sexy from day to night with this Sea Salt Spray.  Simply spray your entire head after showering (or swimming) when damp. The spray gives you an effortless wave with a refreshing scent.

What products are you using on the fourth of July? Let us know in the comments!

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Beauty, Life,

Chicago Beauty #Basics: Do’s and Don’ts.

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Chicago Beauty Basics

Don’t, in fact never, go to bed without finishing your makeup routine no matter how tired you are – take off your makeup!

Don’t whiten your teeth the same day as a big night out; chances are you will drink wine… or whiskey.

Don’t skimp out on razors. If a men’s razor is good enough for his face its good enough for my legs. Tip: Dollar Shave Club! Men use them…on their faces!

Don’t forget to wash your makeup brushes well and often. This prevents breakouts and helps your makeup last longer. You don’t need to break the bank with that expensive brush wash; baby shampoo ($1) is effective and gentle on your skin.

Don’t pluck (anything) before applying makeup, lotion or sweating. Do pluck before the shower, after makeup removal or after moisturizing before bed.

Don’t forget to treat the tops of your hands and neck like your face, wrinkles happen everywhere.

Do exfoliate your face and body at least once every week. This could include dry brushing your body or using a cleansing brush on your face with mild face wash. I use DDF brush ($100) with Kiehl’s Facewash ($10).

Chicago Beauty Basics

Don’t assume hotel shampoos and soaps are safe to use. This is a quick way to ruin all your beauty efforts. Soaps can dry out your skin and shampoos without sulfate will expose your hair leaving it vulnerable to heat and weather.


Do protect your hair from hot tools. My go to products are L’Oreal Paris Color Vibrancy Dual Protect Spray ($5). Apply to damp hair as this protects it from your blow drying. While curling fine hair, it’s especially important to watch the temperature since, fine hair tends to burn faster. To continue protection against curling irons and straighteners I used Sexy Hair: Style Sexy Hair 450 Degree Protect ($19).  Both products smell divine and no one is ever mad about that!

Chicago Beauty

Do find a signature perfume for your everyday use then purchase a travel size perfume or rollerball in something different.  This is a little psychological way to associate smell with vacation and fun. Trust me, it works.

Do give your hair breaks from hot tools summer is the best time to utilize this effort  my favorite solution is a bun, while there are several bun solutions I use Hot Buns ($5.99 at Sally Beauty Supply or CVS).

Chicago Beauty Basics

Do find a Beauty loyalty program and stick with it (stay tuned) because it pays off.


Absolutely exercise and stay hydrated. This is key to keeping healthy skin. Your pores need to breathe and your body needs water.


What are your Chicago Beauty #Basics Do’s and Don’ts? Please share in the comments!

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Beauty, Life,

Chicago Beauty: Haircare Basics

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A wise person once told me that you should treat your hair as delicate as your skin. The sun damages and dries while the vapid Chicago winds dry it out. It’s important to have different Chicago-related beauty routines, especially where your hair is concerned.

Contrary to popular belief, It does matter what type of shampoo, conditioner and product you use on your hair – especially colored types.  We spend enough money on our cuts and coloring so we should protect it in between those pricey visits.
Nexxus Color Assure
Price: $20 for shampoo and conditioner, each. $10 for primer
Chicago Beauty Haircare Basics
It’s best to use sulfate-free products. They’re easy to find, but Nexxus Color Assure is the highest quality product for the price point.  Start with the Primer while your hair is dry before the shower.  Hot water is harsh on your hair, so the cooler temperatures are better. After shampooing, leave the conditioner in during the rest of your showerly duties. Let the conditioner rinse be the last thing you do before turning the water off. This serves as a mini daily deep conditioner.
One ‘n Only Argan Oil
Price: $10
Chicago Beauty Haircare Basics
My every day post-shower hair product for all weather types is One ‘n Only Argan Oil.  It can be found at Sally Beauty Supplies and lasts nearly a year! I’ve been using it for over a decade, days missed are highly noticeable on my texture and frizz control.
Kardashian Beauty K-bomb Volume Foam
Price: $15
Chicago Beauty Haircare Basics
Shamefully, I recently purchased a Kardashian Beauty product. Simply because their hair is bomb (does there need to be a better reason?). I bought the Kardashian Beauty K-bomb Volume Foam, and so far I love the results! To use, apply at the roots when damp for a little extra va-va-voom! If you’re hesitant, it’s made with black seed oil… I’ll let you think about that one. All jokes aside, it works double duty to promote hair growth and prevents hair loss.
It doesn’t take expensive products to maintain great hair. It’s important to keep it simple and be consistent with a daily routine. Adding something like the Kardashian Volume Foam ever so often enhances your routine but adding too many products too often can be wasteful and expensive. Don’t overdo it and weigh your hair down after all the hard work you put into it!


Any Chicago haircare tips I missed? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to pin your favorite products for later 🙂
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Beauty, Life,

Basic Skincare for Chicago Weather

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Please join me in welcoming our newest blogger – Mallory LePage! She’s seriously fabulous and is an early adopter when it comes to trying beauty products. If you have any questions or products you’d like her to review, please let her know in the comments!

We all get suckered into trends and new skin products that are a gamble for wallets and skin, alike. It took me 27 years to get my skin routine down… and it’s still evolving!

The key to great skin is consistency. You don’t need creams made from caviar, or cotton balls made of silk. This is my basic skin routine for Spring, Summer and Fall. Chicagoans need to adopt an aggressive plan in the Winter to handle the wind, hail, sleet, snow, and most recently… polar vortex. But we’ll worry about that when our two months of summer are up!

Before attempting, remove all makeup via makeup wipes or cotton ball and makeup remover.


Step One:  Use two types of cleansers. Try to avoid anything too harsh. I interchange my cleansers every few days based on the level of dirt and oil on my skin.  My favorite more expensive brand is Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleaner.  It’s black and warming, which makes for a nice morning cleanser. One pump is enough and will rid your skin of the city grime.  My other cleanser is Kiehl’s which is typically expensive unless you go to Nordstrom Rack where they regularly have it for a third of the price! Boscia tends to provide a deeper cleanse, and Keihls is softer and appropriate for all skin types.


Step Two: Time for spot treatment. Look, none of us are perfect. Blemishes happen. Stop them, without picking or squeezing, before they really cause a problem. My go-to is Murad Acne Spot Fast Fix. It can easily last six months, making it well worth your money. It does not cause redness like several other ‘solutions.’ Apply after cleansing and before lotion.


Step 2 1/2: On the sunny days (which are rare in Chicago)… apply 50+ SPF before lotion.

Step Three: Lotion. Why not listen to Jennifer Aniston – use Aveeno. She has the best skin around and is notorious for being particular with endorsements, so I listen.


I use Aveeno with Vitamin C, because why not put that on your face? Creams can cost more than clothes. Aveeno is simple and affordable for your every day basic skin care routine.

Never fall asleep without doing your routine! Your skin needs special care when the weather is constantly changing.

What are your skin care secrets for dealing with Chicago weather?