Makeup Products and Tips My Sister Swears By


My sister, Gabbi, is constantly receiving compliments on her flawless skin and radiant makeup. A couple weekends ago, while at a hotel in Miami for my birthday weekend, my friends were literally lining up to have her apply highlighter, bronzer, eyeshadow and more onto their faces. She isn't a professional, but she studies makeup tutorials like there's no tomorrow and has transformed her desk into a vanity resembling a Sephora boutique store. Her skills when it comes to brushes and palettes are made evident in the photos above and below - she always looks either natural, healthy and glowy, or glam without looking overdone. After weeks of hounding her to spill some of her secrets, she finally agreed to take time out of her YouTube tutorial watching and makeup applying to share some of her favorite products and application tips with me. Read 'em, practice 'em, wear 'em and soak in the compliments. 

*Products I also love


A moisturizing gel that doesn't feel greasy on my skin (FYI - my skin type is normal)

This is my favorite moisturizer ever! It feels great and has SPF 47 - important for preventing fine lines and wrinkles! It does get a little greasy after a while, though, so you should definitely add a primer on top.

*Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily Moisturizer, $14.19

Steph here! This moisturizer not only has SPF - it also dramatically reduced the appearance of my scars and any redness/blotchiness. I've been using it for years and have no plans to stop.


A silicone primer that keeps your pores from looking too noticeable, and smooths everything out to turn your face into the perfect canvas.

Steph again. I have combination skin (my T-zone tends to get oily, and my pores are somewhat noticeable) and I also swear by this brand! The pore minimizing one works like magic. 

On days when I don't want to wear too much makeup, I spritz myself with this. It feels refreshing on the skin and most important, it works. I also use it as a setting spray.

Foundation/Beauty Sponges and Brushes

Beauty Blender, $20

A favorite among beauty bloggers, the Beauty Blender does a great job of applying, blending and perfecting liquid foundation. 

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Beauty Blender, $6.97

The price is awesome, it doesn't soak up too much of the product, and it gives me a great overall finish. It's my favorite.

Real Techniques brushes, prices vary 

They are the BEST you can get for this price. You can find them at Walmart, Target, Walgreens and pretty much any drugstore. 

Morphe sponges, brushes and eye shadow brushes, prices vary

These are my favorite brushes that are not available at drugstores, but are still very affordable. The brushes don't fall apart after I wash them, and they do an amazing job of blending. 


Smashbox BB Water, $44 - my current favorite 

This is a medium to full coverage foundation that gives a very natural finish. The BB water also acts like a primer. I love using this during the day because it has SPF, feels so lightweight on the skin and has amazing staying power. I also use it for nighttime! Another plus: this foundation has no flashback, meaning the white of the sunscreen won't show up on camera. Smashbox actually tests all of their base makeups under different lightings to ensure the makeup always look the same on camera. They're also cruelty free.

This foundation is a fan favorite. I've been using this for years and I still love it. It has great staying power and looks so beautiful on the skin. You can also create fuller coverage by adding layers. This foundation also has a wide shade range to fit different undertones. It's perfect for my yellow undertone skin.

This is my all-time favorite drugstore price foundation. You can purchase it online or wherever they sell LA Girl. This foundation is very similar to the Make Up Forever HD, from the formula to the packaging. I have nothing bad to say about it, except that it has a pink undertone ... but I make it work! It is very tacky, so you definitely have to set it, but it has a beautiful finish that leaves your skin looking flawless.

This is my most recent foundation find (I'm wearing it for the first time right now!), but for $5, it gets the job done.  


*Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer (light and light medium), $25

Best. Concealer Ever. Seriously. I love it. For everything. It's matte without being drying. The coverage is amazing - no other concealer beats it.

Maybelline Fit Me, $6.49 

My favorite drugstore concealer. It's comparable to the concealer below -but you definitely have to set this one. 

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (in custard), $30

Great coverage and leaves a very luminous finish.


*Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, $14.99

This bronzer leaves you looking like you just got a tan on an island. It smells like Aruba … or Bora Bora … you know, somewhere tropical. It leaves you with a nice sheen. 

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer, $29

This bronzer has a warmer color and works great for contouring.


A peachy, glowy blush that provide a glow even when you aren't wearing highlighter. My go-to bronzer-and-blush ritual is the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer paired with this blush.

A cult favorite for good reason, this blush works better for a night out, as it gives a stronger color. 



*Smashbox X Casey Holmes Spotlight Palette (in Pearl), $35

Oh. My. God. This collab between Casey Holmes and Smashbox (one of my favorite YouTubers and one of my favorite brands) is life-changing. I can't travel without it. If it ever goes out of stock, I'll buy five at a time. 

*Tarte Skin Twinkle Palette, $42

This is more for a night out, as it has a strong gold champagne color and rosy color. It's beautiful and, if I'm being honest, blinding (in the best way).

*The Balm Mary Louminizer, $24

It gives a great highlight (a bit more powdery, but works great) and looks really pretty in the inner corners of your eye, too.

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter, $4.49

This works great when I'm going for an everyday, natural and minimal look. It gives a subtle golden glow that's so pretty.

Wet 'n' Wild Mega Glow Highlighting Powder (in Precious Petals), $4.68

This has a rose-y pink undertone and it's a great highlighter for the price.

Translucent Powders

*Soap and Glory Kick Ass Powder, $13.99

A translucent powder that's great on all skin types. It isn't drying at all, and has a nice blurring effect in photos. I use it to set my under eye concealer and foundation. 

*Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, $38

Another great setting powder; just avoid it if you have drier skin.

Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, $26

This one is fine and gentle enough to set your under-eye concealer if it creases.

RMCA No-Color Powder, $23

A good powder to use if you have drier skin.

Setting Spray 

If used correctly, this spray will keep a full face of makeup intact throughout a night of dancing and sweating. 

Eyebrow Filling/Shaping

I have naturally full eyebrows, but I still like to fill in those tiny blank areas and give them a perfect shape. This brush with subtle color does the trick.

Sure, the puppy filter makes everything look better ...
but this look was just as gorgeous without the filter

Eyeshadow Primer and Palettes

*Urban Decay Eyeshadow Potion (primer), $12 - $24

This keeps my eyeshadow on all day and night. 

*Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics, $54

All the mattes you'll ever need. It's beautiful, the packaging is gorgeous, the mirror is great and the eyeshadows have great pigmentation and are easy to blend.

*Morphe x Kathleen Lights (no longer available)

Probably one of my favorite palettes. The eyeshadows are so creamy, pigmented and easy to blend, and the colors are gorgeous. 

*Carli Bybel Original (no longer available)

Perfect mauve colors and the highlighters are great, too.

Morphe 35O Color Nature Glow, $22.99

It's basically a sun set in a palette - a lot of reds and oranges, and some darker tones. 

Morphe 35T Color Taupe, $22.99

Perfect for mauves; a really nice palette to wear in Autumn.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance, $42

Such beautiful colors! But, they do have a bit of fall-out, as they are very powdery. 

Eyelash Curler

Tweezerman Pro-Curl Eyelash Curler, $22

I've tried a bunch … this one is my favorite. It's gentle on the lashes and doesn't catch too much makeup.


*Urban Decay Perversion, $22

My favorite mascara - it's very volumizing and it gives your lashes great length; it's awesome. It's also a true black and it doesn't flake off.

*Benefit They're Real!, $24

Steph here. This is my current favorite. It makes your lashes look extra long and flirty. The first time I used it, my friends asked me if I was wearing fake lashes (they only asked because they had seen my pre-Benefit lashes) … the mascara gives a great, natural looking finish.

Benefit Roller Lash, $24

Very lengthening! It doesn't clump at all, which I love.

*Better Than Sex, $23

Probably the most voluminous your lashes will every be - but it does tend to flake. P.S. They also make a waterproof version (in the coolest packaging!) that works really well.

Maybelline Lash Sensational, $8.99

This is a dupe for the Benefit Roller Lash. It works really well. 


We've both tried numerous liquid eyeliners, and this one takes the cake. It's incredible. It also has a solid eyeliner stick on the other end. 


*Colourpop Aquarius (glossy, satin and matte), bundle available for $15
*Colourpop Lumiere Lippie Stix, $5
*Colourpop ChiChi Lippie Stix, $5
*Colourpop Alyssa Ultra Satin Lip, $6

For being so inexpensive, Colourpop puts out great quality products that you can tell they really care about as a brand. They have the best formulas - and I love that they do so many collabs with YouTubers. 

*Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Liquid Lip in Ashton, $20

It's probably one of my favorite colors year-round. It goes with a lot of looks and doesn't really come off (however, it can be a bit drying … stay hydrated!)

*NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in London, $4.49 
*NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm, $5.99

These smell like cake batter, have a really nice mousse-y texture and great pigmentation. 

*Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Matte in Daringly Nude, $7.99

A great nude drugstore lip stick that I've been wearing a lot lately. It's matte but glides on creamy. 

*Smashbox L.A. Lights Cheek & Lip Color in Lauren Canyon Coral, $29

The perfect summer shade that also doubles as a cheek stain! It has pretty impressive lasting power. Wear it on both lips and cheeks for a fun and trendy look!


Skin care is very important. The base is the most important part (you can't paint a masterpiece on a crappy canvas!) Make sure to exfoliate twice a week. Before doing your makeup, put on a moisturizer and let that sink in for about 5 minutes. Then, put on primer and let that sink in for a few minutes so it can disguise your pores. After you've put on your foundation, set it lightly with either translucent powder or foundation powder. Once you've finished doing your makeup, spritz on setting spray. This will ensure your makeup stays on all day and night. Also, you should NEVER sleep with your makeup up on. It's terrible for your skin ... some say your face ages two days every time you do!

Mother Knows Best: 10 Lessons My Mom Taught Me About Life, Love, Health and Happiness


It truly amazes me how much the saying "mother knows best" rings true in my life. Granted, my mom isn't always right (although I'm sure she'd beg to differ), but I'd say she is about 98% of the time. Another thing that amazes me? How much I love this woman. We drive each other nuts from time to time, and we've certainly had our fair share of fights, but the connection I have with my mom is something that I can't ever find the words to explain - it's something that can only be felt. It's the connection I have with her that makes me believe in something bigger than ourselves. It keeps me motivated during the toughest times, and grateful during the darkest times. With each passing day, I grow more and more sentimental just thinking about how wonderful she is, and how lucky I am to have her in my life at all, let alone as my mom (seriously, what did I do in my past life to deserve this honor?!)

In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share some of the most valuable lessons my mom taught me throughout my childhood and teenage years, and the lessons she continues to teach me now in my twenties. I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating the most important woman in your life - whoever she may be.

1. If a boy really likes you, he will let you know

It happens to all of us - women and men - particularly in our teenage years: when something nice happens between us and the person we desire romantically, we try and convince ourselves that they desire us, too. Let's be honest: in middle school, if the boy you liked said hi to you in the hallway and smiled at you, you hoped for the best. Early in my pre-teen years, my mom made it a point to tell me, "if a boy really likes you, he will let you know." She went on to say that you won't spend months wondering, because he'll tell you or make it incredibly obvious (as in, he'll ask you out on a date). This harsh yet necessary piece of advice saved me a lot of embarrassment and self-loathing in my high school and college years. When I see women trying to convince themselves that a man cares for them as more than just a friend, when that man has never truly said or done anything to support that thought, I feel bad that they didn't have my mother's voice of reasoning in their head. Seriously, thank you for this, mom. 

2. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact or a phone call

In a world filled with people who are increasingly obsessed with staring at screens and hitting "like," my mom remains an advocate for real human contact and the good ole' phone call. Growing up, she didn't let computers and social media take up too much of my time (which I thank her for now, even if I threw a fit back then) and she's always reminded me that human beings have an innate thirst for face-to-face contact and human touch, and it's a thirst we need to quench.

3. The sooner you take care of your skin, eyes, posture and body, the better

When I turned 20, my mom gave me an anti-aging moisturizer. She also made the font on my phone larger, she bought me a back cushion for my desk chair, and she's always pushed me to get off my butt and get moving. Even though I tease her about all of these things, I appreciate her for reminding me that looking and feeling good in the later half of your life relies heavily on how well you treated yourself during the first half. And she's living proof of this: at almost 55, her skin looks like that of a 30 year old's.

4.  Be patient and be kind, but don't let people take advantage of you

As someone with one of the kindest hearts out there, my mom has always reminded me that we're all human beings with our own struggles. We're beautiful in our own ways, and we don't deserve to be judged or judge others by our exteriors. She taught me that kindness reciprocates, and patience is a virtue. She's also taught me that you need to be assertive in life, and you can't be too nice to the point where people take advantage of you. Stick up for yourself and be kind to yourself - no one will respect you if you don't respect yourself.

5. Put yourself out there and do what makes you happy 

One of the things I most admire about my mom (even if it sometimes makes me cringe) is that she really doesn't care what people think. If she's comfortable in an outfit, she's happy. She wasn't afraid to own the stage when she was in drama in high school, she'll happily bring the house down with karaoke and she loves to strike up conversations with people wherever she goes. Considering she's one of the happiest people I know, I think it's safe to say we should follow in her footsteps.

6. It's healthy to be a little selfish

Too tired to go out? Don't want to clean the house after you worked a 9-hour day? Not in the mood to make an hour long drive when someone could visit you? Say no. The people who love and care for you will (eventually) understand. We all deserve a break every once in a while. Don't spread yourself so thin that you aren't able to be yourself. You can always take a rain check.

7. A glass of red wine a day can help keep the stress at bay

My mom is basically the face of this movement, and I don't think I need to convince anyone that it's a movement worth joining. ;)

8. Invest time in your female friendships

My mom is amazing at fostering her friendships. She sees her best friend multiple times a week and gets together with her group of girlfriends every month (in addition to planning a big girls trip every year - without any husbands or boyfriends). Let's be honest: there comes a point where men don't understand women the way women understand women - and that's totally understandable. My mom is all about women supporting women and girls having their girl time. The older I get, the more I realize how important my female friends are ... and I love my mom for always pushing me to spend more time with them.

9. Take time to make - and preserve - your memories

I'm so grateful that my mom made it a point to be consistent with arranging family trips, friend play dates and celebrations for every birthday and holiday. She made so many of my dreams come true, and gave me an incredible, beautiful and exciting childhood that I still think about every single day. Better yet - I can relive those memories whenever I want, thanks to the fact that she was adamant about taking home videos and preserving photos in albums. A trip down memory lane is available whenever I need one.

10. Growing older is a blessing, and life is meant to be celebrated

Here comes the big lesson. The one everyone needs to read, especially during a time when bad news is all too common and, on a personal note, I'm hitting a quarter of a century in age: every year you grow older is a blessing. About to turn 30, 50, 80? You made it another year in this crazy, beautiful life, and that is something to be celebrated. Growing older is a privilege - it isn't guaranteed. You have one life, and you deserve to enjoy it, and create happiness whenever and wherever you can. Thanks to my mom, who made us celebrate her 50th birthday three separate times, I never grew up watching someone who dreaded hitting another milestone year. I saw someone who welcomed it with open arms, a big smile, and a grateful heart full of love. For this lesson, I can't thank my mom enough - and I couldn't love her more.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you!


A Month in the Life


What I'm excited about this month: a Love Actually cast reunion, bikini season must-haves, two milestone birthdays and and more. 

May got off to a weird start this year - I was in my first (and hopefully last) car accident recently, and spent the first week of the month resting and recuperating - but the next few weeks are full of celebrations: my sister's 21st birthday (which I swear I'm more excited about than she is), my 25th birthday, Mother's Day, and the official start of what I like to call "bikini season," among other things. I'm feeling a whole lot of love and excitement, and I hope this post helps you feel some, too. :)

Here are some of the things I'm loving and looking forward to this month.

Birthday Drinks "Around the World"at Disney's Epcot 

Gabbi (my sister) is turning 21 on Saturday, and let me tell you - I might be more excited about this than I was for my own 21st four years ago. She and I are really close, and the closer she's gotten to turning 21, the more irritable she gets when we're anywhere that serves alcohol (for the record, she knows and admits this, and who can blame her? 20 was a rough age). All that being said, we're counting down the minutes until the big day, where we'll be "drinking around the world" at Disney's Epcot. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this park and are wondering why someone would want to celebrate a 21st birthday there, here's your answer: the park's "world showplace" area has 11 pavilions that each represent a different country: Mexico, Norway, Germany, China, Italy, the U.S., Japan, France, Morocco, the U.K and Canada. The employees in each of the countries are almost always from that country (accent and all) and each country serves the alcoholic beverages and food they're known for. Drinking and eating our way through 11 countries in 1 day? Challenge accepted.

*Check out my guide to drinking and eating around the world at Epcot here.

The Love Actually Cast Reunion We Needed, Actually

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Every year, actors, comedians, singers and other celebrities come together to raise awareness for Red Nose Day, a fundraising campaign run by the nonprofit Comic Relief, Inc. Their vision: "a just world, free from poverty." Their mission? "To drive positive change through the power of entertainment." There's a TV special on NBC every year to raise funds for this campaign, and I'm pretty sure I cried when I first viewed the teaser announcing that the cast of Love Actually would be reuniting for a "Red Nose Day Actually" surprise. I don't know what stirs my emotions more: the musical score, the revival of that iconic Christmas Card scene, or seeing how gracefully and beautifully everyone has aged. Either way, I'm getting the shit kicked out of me by love (*real Love Actually fans will understand*).

Sweet Gifts for the Sweetest Mom

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As I mentioned before, May is one of the busiest months of the year for me, and that usually means I'm left with about a week to select Mother's Day gifts for my queen of a mama. For the past few years, she's reminded me and my sister that she already has a lot of jewelry, she doesn't want more purses, and she prefers to buy clothes on her own, which sends my sister and I searching for pretty, more heartfelt gifts that will make her smile. I fell in love with this cookie and flower bouquet from Farm & Haus and Merci Bakery, two Orlando businesses (yay, local love!). I'm surprising my mom with one on Sunday (she knows not to read this blog post until then) and plan to make this pretty DIY rose sugar scrub to complement the sweet floral theme. 

Bikinis, Beach Bags and Hats, Oh My 

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College seniors have graduated, the temperature has risen, and shorts and dresses are replacing the hangers that previously held jeans and sweaters. Summer is upon us, and even though the heat here in Florida is already unbearable at times, it's the perfect excuse to stock up on the bikinis, hats, bags, cover-ups, and espadrilles filling our Instagram feeds. I'm excited to feel the sun on my skin while decked out in cheeky statements (can't wait to wear my new hat, pictured above, this weekend) tropical prints and bright colors. Some of my favorite warm weather picks: PacSun's tropical print bikinis/bathing suits, Marc Fisher espadrilles (I purchased a less expensive, almost identical pair at Macy's), the cutest Pom Pom tote bag from Neiman Marcus, this cover-up from Old Navy and these fun rainbow sandals from Target. 


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I love movies. Like, really love movies. Whether it's a serious Oscar-winning film, a quirky and honest indie film, or, yes, a slightly cheesy, feel-good romantic comedy that you can watch over and over again, I'm all in. That being said, I've noticed the major lack of rom-coms over the past few years (remember when there were several out every year in the early/mid 2000s?) and I've been praying for them to make a comeback. Looks like my prayers might be answered, thanks to up-and-coming screenwriter and director Hallie Meyers-Shyer, whose new film Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, hits theatres in September. Considering Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of one of my favorite screenwriters and directors, Nancy Meyers, I'm pretty damn excited about this. I love this article begging Reese Witherspoon to #SavetheRomCom. 

My 25th Birthday Gift to Myself: A Bucket List Item, Crossed Off

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I'm turning 25 next Friday, and earlier this year, I made a promise to myself that I would make 25 the age where I simply do more. There are so many things I dreamed of doing my whole life, and now that I'm about to hit a quarter of a century (can someone say early-life crisis?) I'm realizing that I don't want to waste anymore time dreaming - I'm ready for the doing. Something I always wanted to try growing up, but could never quite muster up the courage to do, was sign up for acting classes. I'm happy and proud to share that I'll finally be making that long-time goal a reality this month, as I've signed up for a highly acclaimed acting program here in Orlando. Stay tuned for more on that in a future post!