Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

August & September Beauty Discoveries

September 19, 2016

august and september beauty

Every month I write about new beauty discoveries, but I missed August’s post because I was busy moving and starting a new job, so I decided to combine August and September beauty discoveries. There aren’t many products to share because I was using old favorites and trying not to purchase new products before moving to a new apartment but I am very pleased with these products!

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol Free Toner
I recently ran out of the Kate Somerville Clarifying Toner so I decided to try Kiehl’s toner. I read that this is a customer favorite. It targets normal to oily skin types and is alcohol free and gentle on my sensitive skin. I am half way through the bottle and haven’t noticed any difference on my skin–which isn’t necessary a bad thing. I haven’t had any skin issues lately and my skin continues to be smooth and clear.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I purchased this when I traveled to Taiwan last March and just started using it. I have been double cleaning for half a year now and it has made a huge difference in clearing up my skin. I have tried many cleansing oils and my favorite is still solid balm form that melts vs the oil form, but I do like this DHC oil. It is super gentle yet removes even waterproof mascara and eyeliner. It is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants. I would highly recommend this for people who likes the oil form!

Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright SPF 30 Moisturizer
This is a rich morning moisturizer. I picked it because it has SPF 30 and helps diminish dark spots and discolorations. I have not seen any reduction in dark spots because I have only been using it for 1-2 months. A couple of callouts: it does have a fragrance so some people may not like that and it is really rich so it may not be the best moisturizer for people who wear lots of makeup.

Marc Jacobs Bronzer in Tantric
This was my go-to bronzer all summer! I received a small sample from Sephora as a VIB gift and it was just the perfect trial size! I’ve always had a hard time finding a bronzer that shows up and looks good on my skin tone, so I was extremely pleased when this bronzer exceeded my expectation. The color looks so natural on my skin and lasts all day. This was my first Marc Jacobs product and I can’t wait to try other products from this brand.

Let me know if you’ve tried these products. I would also love to hear about your recent product discoveries. Have a great Monday!

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Life, Lifestyle

What’s Next for Ditch the Heels

September 12, 2016

lower nob hill

Happy Morning! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I have not blogged in a couple of weeks so I just want to share some life updates and talk about what’s next for Ditch the Heels.

New Chapter in San Francisco

When I first started this blog, I was a student in business school and my husband lived in another state. I recently graduated and moved from the Midwest to San Francisco. SF has been a target city for many years because it has the jobs/companies I am interested in and I also want to live close to my brother. For a while I did not know if the move will happen, but my husband and I both found jobs and this dream has quickly become a reality. I received the keys to our new apartment (picture above!) last Wednesday and the movers arrived on Thursday. I am excited for my husband to arrive tonight and to finally live together again! Now he can be an Instagram husband again!

What’s Next?

I have been extremely busy the last couple of months with the move and new job. I used to post 2-3 times a week, but lately I’ve only had time to post once or twice a month. I have learned so much and have met amazing people since starting this blog, and I am still passionate about blogging, so I want to continue. However, I want to set realistic expectations for myself so that I won’t feel stressed or sad if I am unable to blog. I plan to post once a week–targeting Mondays since I have the weekends to work on content. My focus will still be beauty and fashion, but I will also try to do more food, travel and life posts.

If you have any comments or feedback–including anything San Francisco related–please leave it below. Thank you and I hope you have a great week ahead!

Fashion

Le Tote Review

August 21, 2016

Le Tote TBAGS Printed Maxi DressDress: TBAGS (25% off) // Bracelet: Rebecca Minkoff // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Sunglasses: Versace 

Happy Sunday! It has been a few weeks since my last post! I have been busy searching for an apartment in San Francisco and buying new furniture. Everything is coming together nicely and I cannot wait for my husband to join me next month! Today is my last day of #funemployment because I start my new job tomorrow!

I had a chance to try Le Tote in July so I want to write about my experience. Le Tote is a clothing subscription service that costs $59 or $69 (maternity plan) per month. The difference between Le Tote and Stitch Fix is that you can select what goes into your box and you can request multiple boxes a month. When you first sign up, you can browse the selection and add items to your “closet.” Le Tote stylists will recommend 3 garments and 2 accessories per box, and will try to include at least one item from your closet. You can review the selection and swap out any items before they are shipped, so you have almost complete control of what will be sent to you. You can wear the items for as long as you want (you just keep paying the monthly subscription fee). There is a discount to purchase items you want to keep (normally 20% off retail), and the rest you can send back in a pre-labeled bag–no need to clean/wash the items! It sounds like a great service so I wanted to try it out. Here are the two totes I received:

Tote 1:
le tote review

My first tote arrived 1.5 weeks after I signed up. I liked the items I received, especially the TBAGS maxi dress. I wore all the items except for the French Connection Mesh Detail Tank. It looked like a night cami and not something I would feel comfortable wearing outside the home. I thought the clutch, bracelet and embroidered top were so-s0. You can see the retail price and discounted price above. After wearing these items once, I sent all of them back for a new tote.

Tote 2:
Le Tote Review

My second tote arrived a week after I sent back the first tote. As soon as the tracking code got scanned at the origin, a new tote was ready for me to review online. I loved that because it eliminated having to wait for the first tote to arrive at the Le Tote warehouse, which sped up the time I received Tote 2. I loved the Coin 1804 sweater–the material was extremely soft and the fit was flattering. I wanted to purchase the item and the discount was 20% off retail price, but I would rather purchase it brand new. I searched for it online but couldn’t find it anywhere except on the Le Tote website. I tried all the other items in my tote except for the La Fee Verte Cardigan. It looked great in the photo, but it was too long on me and it was also very heavy. I would highly recommend the French Connection Clutch–it goes with so many outfits and is very fashionable. I have a similar one from Rebecca Minkoff.

Overall Thoughts:

I enjoyed trying out Le Tote but decided to discontinue after one month. Even though the clothes are clean, I don’t like wearing clothes that have been worn by someone else. For the same reason,  a 10-30% is not enough for me to purchase previously worn clothing. If I love something, I would like the option to purchase it new. Le Tote is great for people who wants to try out different clothes/accessories, and you can receive 3 boxes a month if you send items back quickly. I loved that I didn’t have to clean the products before shipping them back. If you don’t mind purchasing previously worn clothing, the discount is nice. Le Tote is also great for people who prefer basic styles because I didn’t see anything that was trendy or in fashion. Most items can only be found on Le Tote’s website because they are past seasons’ clothing. Rent the Runway does something similar except their monthly fee is $139, but the selection is a lot larger and it carries designer clothing.

Let me know if Le Tote or Rent the Runway is something you would try! If you use my referral link you can get $25 off your first tote.

le tote review

MAX STUDIO Embroidered Keyhole Top

OCTAVIA & CO Color Block Clutch

REBECCA MINKOFF Pave Triangle Hinge Bracelet

TBAGS Printed Maxi Dress

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Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

July 2016 Beauty Discoveries

August 1, 2016

july 2016 beauty discoveries

Happy Monday! Hope you guys had a wonderful weekend. I am in a transition period. I graduated from business school mid June and moved to San Francisco in July. Most of my things are still in boxes because the movers won’t get them out to SF until mid September and I have been trying not to purchase too many new items, so I haven’t had the chance to try many new products the last couple of months. Here are four new products I have discovered and have been using for most of July:

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer
Isn’t this just STUNNING?? Hourglass is one of my favorite beauty brands because of the high quality formulation and easy application. I have been wanting to purchase this bronzer since purchasing the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in shade Radiant Magenta a few months back. Since I have gotten tanner this summer, my Tom Ford compact bronzer doesn’t show up on my skin anymore, so I needed to find a new bronzer. This bronzer looks very natural on my skin and has a little bit of shimmer.

MAC Lipstick Shade Cosmo
MAC has several lipstick formulations. I prefer a matte finish, but MAC matte lipsticks are too drying, so  my favorite formula is the amplified creme because it is ultra creamy but not too shiny. I purchased the shade Cosmo almost a year ago, but didn’t get a chance to use it until recently! This is a beautiful everyday pink and easily goes with most makeup looks.

Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment
When I fly, I love to put on a sleeping mask or hydrating mask such as the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight or Laniege Water Sleeping Mask. I wanted to try something new so I picked up the Glamglow hydrating treatment. It is extremely hydrating and smells like coconut. When I have a trip coming up, I prep my skin by applying this at night two days before my trip and then again before my flight. This keeps my skin moisturized and soft. I plan to use this weekly during the winter as well!

Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder
I was skeptical about this product, so I purchased the small size to try. This starts out as a dry powder, but when water is added, it creates a creamy foam. The product website says the rice bran with papaya extracts reduces the look of fine lines and addresses uneven skintone, hyperpigmentation, and breakouts. The pearl protein extract conditions and balances the skin while natural exfoliants gently polish away dullness and dead skin cells. I use this in the morning when I don’t have any makeup on and I do think it does a great job of exfoliating the skin and have noticed clearer skin. I love this product but I am not sure if it is worth the price. I would recommend trying the small size first, and if you do like it, keep your eyes out for any discount on Sephora or Tatcha.

I think this was one of the few times I liked every item I tried! Since most of my times are packed away, I am happy that these great products are currently in my beauty bag!

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Beauty, Makeup

Makeup Brushes 101

July 23, 2016

makeup brushes 101

When I first started using makeup, choosing and purchasing makeup tools and brushes overwhelmed me. I didn’t know what are the essentials vs nice-to-haves, the differences in materials and brands, or simply the purpose of various brushes. This post is a basic guide for those new to makeup. Hopefully you will find this useful and easy to understand! I have also included information on my personal collection in the bottom.

The Essentials

For everyday basics, a few tools will get the job done. Here are my recommendations on the essentials:

  • Beauty Blender – Great for foundation, concealer, blush, and powder. An absolute must! I use this everyday to apply liquid foundation, under eye concealer, spot concealer, and under eye setting powder. If you use this exclusively, you won’t need a foundation or concealer brush.
  • Foundation Brush – Provides easy application and the right brush won’t give you any streaks.
  • Concealer Brush Blemishes – Never use your fingers to cover blemishes! It’s full of bacteria and a brush will be much more effective in covering up the spot.
  • Concealer Brush Under Eye – A larger brush for the under eye helps to buff and reduce creasing.
  • Blush Brush – A tapered brush allows a natural application. Use a light hand because this will pick up a lot of product.
  • Powder Brush – Multi-functional–can be used with powder foundation, bronzer, blush, and setting powder.
  • Eyeshadow Brush – There are so many eyeshadow brushes for different purposes: blending, contouring, smudging, etc. This Tarte double-ended brush will be enable the everyday eye look.

If you’re just starting out, purchasing these in a set will be the most cost effective. Some of my favorite sets are from Sonia Kashuk, MAC (on sale now!!), and It Cosmetics.

The nice-to-haves: contour brush, bronzer brush, highlighter brush, eye liner brush, and fan brush.

Natural vs Synthetic

Makeup brushes are either natural or synthetic. The best choice depends on the product you will apply with it. Natural brushes are typically made out of animal hair or fur, and are more expensive. They are softer than synthetic but tend to shed more. They are also harder to clean because they hold on to products so well. They are best used with powder-based makeup such as eye shadow, powder blush, powder bronzer, and finishing/setting powder. Synthetic brushes are made out of nylon and polyester. They allow more precise and smooth application. They are best used with liquid and cream products such as liquid foundation, concealer, cream blush and gel eyeliner.

Brushes are costly investments, so it’s best to purchase a starter kit or purchase one at a time. Take time to do your research and have fun practicing! Make sure to take good care of your brushes by cleaning them regularly with a makeup cleanser or DIY solution. I like to use dish liquid soap and olive oil on a 3:1 ratio.

Here are the brushes I have in my collection.

best foundation brushesBeauty Blender Pro // Artis Oval 8 // Morphe M439 // MAC 180 // Sephora 55

best concealer brushesMorphe E20 // MAC 286 // Lancome 8 // Artis Fluenta Oval 4

best face brushesTarte // Lancome 3 // Real Techniques 300 // Morphe E2 // Sephora 55 // Morphe M501

best eyeshadow brushesMorphe E27 // MAC 239 // Sephora 70 // Sephora 73 // Real Techniques 202

best setting powder brushesIt Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe // Morphe E3 // Morphe E2

best makeup brush cleaning toolBeauty Blender Solid Cleanser // Silicon Scrubber

Fashion

2016 Nordstrom Anniversary Picks

July 15, 2016

Early access to the Nordstrom Anniversary sale started yesterday! The early access runs from July 12-21, the public sale starts July 22, and prices go up August 8th. I love this sale because new fall merchandise temporary go on sale during the summer and the products featured are amazing! I had a chance to check out the sale yesterday and here are some of my favorite picks!

Shoes

I never lead with shoes, but I am most impressed by the shoes selection this year. The Tory Burch flats is a staple–super comfortable and perfect for work or a night out. The UGG high top sneaker reminds me of Converse and I just love this one in brown. The SARTO bootie is another alternative that is comfortable yet stylish. Lace-up is still very popular, and I love this one by Vince Camuto that would be perfect with cropped jeans or dress. The sale is the perfect time to purchase boots, which are usually pretty pricey! I love the over the knee boots by Halogen because the slit on the back and the elastic is great for someone like me who has big calves.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016

Beauty

I always look forward to seeing the beauty items. The skincare and makeup items are usually bundled at an amazing value so this is a great time to try something new or to stock up on favorites. Here are some of my picks:

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Beauty Palette // MAC Advanced Brush Kit // GLAMGLOW Set // Kiehl’s Skin Favorites // LUNA Mini / Beauty Blender Set // Eye Mask

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Clothes

I love cute jackets and sweaters that I can layer over a shirt or dress, so that was my focus this year. I love this these leather jackets by Marc New York and Halogen. Even though it’s summer, winter will be here in no time (speaks like a true Midwesterner). The Mackage parka and Patagonia down jacket will keep you warm all winter! My summer picks are these: Leith dolman dress, Milly fit and flare, and Halogen lace skirt.

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Handbags and Accessories

Last year I purchased a Rebecca Minkoff bucket bag and has gotten so much use out of it. I love the shape and functionality of bucket bags. This cherry colored bucket bag by 3.1 Phillip Lim is perfect all year long! The Kate Spade crossbody bag is perfect for casual, every day use such as running errands or shopping. I became a big fan of Kendra Scott jewelry this year, and I think the large cuff is so versatile. If you’re looking for something sparkly, the Monica Vinader bracelet and Nadri hoop earrings are great options.

nordstrom anniversary sale 2016Have you checked out the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale yet? I would love to hear what are on your wish list!