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We love mineral makeup, and above all, we love bareMinerals mineral makeup. Since their prime, their starter kits have been all over Ulta and Sephora. They are great, because they give you everything you need to, well, start. 

That kit hovered around the $60 mark, which was always a little steep (but well worth it). Well, just recently, bareMinerals reached out to the skeptical first-time shopper and released the Try. Believe. Love. kit for an incredible $20!

Though all the products are smaller, and it doesn’t come with their amazing kabuki brush (that’s what creates that airbrushed look), it does come with the following: Original and Matte SPF 15 foundation, Mineral Veil finishing powder, SPF 20 concealer, mini full flawless face brush and mini concealer brush. The $60 kit comes with two shades of foundation, the extra brush, and what they call “warmth” which is a transparent, bronzer-like powder. 

Overall, we think the Try. Believe. Love. kit is a fantastic pre-starter for the beauty maven who is interested in diving into mineral makeup, but wants to dip her toes in first. $20,

MB-enzyme-cleanser.jpgSince we first discovered Mario Badescu’s drying lotion in college, MB has been our skincare mainstay. Visits to their small, yet official skincare store/spa in Manhattan only made us love the brand even more. 

We’ve tried most of their products - kiwi scrubs, seaweed cleansers, honey moisturizer - but the star of the Mario Badescu line, in our honest opinion, is the Enzyme Cleansing Gel

We first fell in love with it when it came as a sample with our first drying lotion purchase. It has a soft, clean scent unlike other cleansers we’ve tried, that makes you want to smell it over and over again. It’s non-drying and non-stripping formula is also non-foaming. It was a little strange at first to cleanse our face with no lather. Rubbing a green, pearlescent gel on t-zone wasn’t too convincing, but seven years later, it’s still our number one favorite cleanser of all time. 

The packaging is simple and not in the least fancy, but the costumer service is fantastic, you always get samples to try with your order, and the price just can’t be beat.

If you wear heavy foundation or eye makeup, you’ll need a makeup remover beforehand, but it’s the only cleansing product we have found to not leave our face feeling tight and in desperate need of moisturizer (though we always apply anyway…and so should you.) Paired with their Special Cucumber Lotion (it’s really a toner, and not a lotion, fyi), our face has never (and probably will never) looked so good. $12 for 8 oz; $20 for 16 oz;

When Benefit Cosmetics first released their new blush CORALista, we received a sample, as well as a little bottle of Posietint. We had previously owned Benefit’s Moon Beam, but weren’t head-over-heels for it necessarily, so we weren’t terribly excited about our new goodies. 

Boy, were we in for a delight! Ever since that first sample, we’ve been a repeat customer. Normally, blushes come off either too orange, or too light, or too matte for our tastes - not the case here! We can’t even begin to imagine our makeup routine without these two products. Benefit’s Posietint and CORALista are our go-tos. Never have we had so many compliments on our glow and makeup since we made these two part of our regimen. 

CORALista is a vibrant, but not clownish, pink rouge with a slight shimmer and a very subtle sweet scent. Posietint is a “poppy-pink” lip and cheek stain. We don’t really like it so much for our lips, but it’s a must-have for the apples of our cheeks. The integrated brush makes application super easy. 

For perfect, glowing carnation-pink cheeks (which, in our opinion, are a must have for looking gorgeous in those holiday photos), we applied 3-4 dots of the Posietint in a line on each of our cheeks and rubbed it in with our fingertips. We finish that up with a few sweeps of the CORALista blush (though we sometimes apply it in backwards order to wonderful results, as well.) Caution: these may be addicting! $28 each,
olay total effects plus cooling hydration moisturizer.jpgWe don’t have to tell you just how long we’ve been on the hunt for the holy grail anti-aging moisturizer…obviously long enough to NEED an anti-aging moisturizer. It’s been a long road, but we may have finally hit the jackpot with Olay’s Total Effects 7 in 1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer Plus Cooling Hydration.  

This heavy hitter fights the signs of aging and keeps skin refreshed, providing the benefits of 7 anti-aging therapies plus a burst of invigorating mint-extract complex to keep skin feeling refreshed. It’s lightweight, oil-free, and leaves skin smooth, more even-toned, and definitely younger looking.

Total Effects Plus Cooling Hydration fights 7 signs of aging by:

• Minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
• Soothing dry skin with cooling moisturization
• Fighting dullness for a healthy-looking radiance
• Gently exfoliating to smooth and even skin’s texture
• Refining to minimize the appearance of pores
• With antioxidants, helps protect skin’s surface from free radical damage
• Hydrating to firm the appearance of skin

The moisturizer is a dream under makeup or alone, and hydrates skin with no greasy feel or film left behind; it sinks into the skin quickly and really improves appearance. Since receiving a sample, we haven’t been without it!

$22.99 at

Sultra The Bombshell 1Celebs like Rachel Zoe, Kate Hudson, and Jessica Simpson have long had many of us longing for those seemingly effortless, loose, beachy waves they all have in common. If you’ve ever tried to get said waves, you know that “effortless” really isn’t so effort-free after all. Whether your hair is fine or thick, long or short, you’ve surely spent a socially unacceptable amount of time curling and twirling your locks with an iron, only to have your waves fall flat five minutes after leaving the house.

Enter Sultra’s Bombshell iron. This iron has already gained quite the cult following, and after testing it, deservedly so. The 1 inch curling iron styles hair in half the time of traditional irons, utilizing Japenese Kyocera ceramic technology, and features a clampless barrel design: simply wrap hair around the base for perfect, kink free waves and curls.

To use, grab a small section of hair, hold wand vertical to head, wrap length of hair around the barrel, and release after a few seconds. Perfect waves! As an added plus, the Bombshell comes with a cute hot pink glove to protect fingers while curling around the rod.

When tested, the Bombshell was a winner by our criteria: It heats instantly, is easy to use, quick, and creates perfectly smooth waves or curls, no matter your hair length or texture. We were able to attain surfer girl waves on medium length, super thick hair in less time than it takes to blowdry. A+!

$130, at Sephora.

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