Sunday Skincare 101

For the last several years, I’ve spent my workdays educating people on skincare basics, talking about products and ingredients, different methods of application, searching for ways to help them achieve each unique skin mission.

I can say one thing for sure, everyone likes things their own way, and the ‘typical’ regime can vary from 1 holy grail item to a 15-step skincare routine.

As with everything in life, each individual will gravitate towards their own way of doing things.

Whichever route you opt, while caring for your body’s largest organ, make sure that you’re covering these basic needs.


Find a gentle, water-soluble cleanser removes debris, oil, and makeup. Splashing your face with water will not be enough, you need to remove the dirt and bacteria that has accumulated from the air outside or your pillowcase at night.

I recommend washing your face once at night, and again in the morning. Tailor your cleanser to your desired results. Does your skin feel dry & parched? Then you’ll want to find a soft, hydrating cleanser. Looking to control shine or oil? Aim for a purifying cleanser.

‘Cleansing’ also means different things for different people. A full-face application of makeup is going to require more specialized attention than a bare face. My daily routine involves playing around with lots of makeup, so in my skincare routine, the first step is to remove it!

Double Cleanse is my go-to, daily. First, an OIL CLEANSER to remove all traces of makeup, gently and effectively. Oils have recently trended in the beauty world, and there are many great makeup-removing oils to try. They can be beneficial for more reasons than one, helping to hydrate skin and nourish eyelashes. This also eliminates the need for a cotton pad and targeted eye makeup remover. (Although, I will still reach for this one every so often, if I’m wearing a particularly dark shade of lipstick or large amounts of eyeliner/mascara.)

Next, wash with your basic cleanser, chosen depending on your skin type. This cleanser will be able to do it’s job even more effectively, since you’ve already cleared away any makeup and dirt with the oil.


Toners with skin-repairing ingredients soften and replenish the skin’s surface immediately after cleansing. They also help reduce redness and dry patches, clarify the skin, etc. There are many variations of toners, skin-type specific.

Pay attention to the ingredients! Most toners contain alcohol, make sure to steer clear of those ones. Look for a gentle, alcohol-free toner. A great basic is Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel.  $7


But, be gentle about it. Always gentle.

Exfoliants remove built-up dead skin cells, and aid in the turnover of new skin. Physical exfoliation is fairly self-explanatory, manually exfoliating the skin with a device like the Clarisonic, or using a cleanser with grains/beads.

Chemical exfoliation is a lot less intimidating than it sounds to a skincare rookie, and yields some pretty awesome results. Imagine your skin as many cells, held together by a “glue.” Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) works by loosening up this glue and letting the cells fall away easier. This helps to reveal brighter, healthier, and plumper skin beneath. It is most commonly found in three forms: Glycolic, lactic, and mandelic.

BHA is short for Beta Hydroxy Acid. BHAs are a bit more complex than AHAs. They work by penetrating and detoxifying pores. This is what makes them preferred for oily and acne-prone skin. A commonly-used BHA is salicylic acid.


Depending on what you are trying to perfect about your skin, choose a treatment in the form of SERUM, OIL, CONCENTRATE, etc. to enact change. This is where skincare becomes so complex and beautiful. There are endless blends of skin-improving ingredients, new products and lines emerging every day.

You can layer several treatments together, just be mindful of ingredients and don’t mix anything that may cause an unwanted reaction.

I’ve mentioned checking out the ingredients several times now, and that’s because it’s essential to get the most from every step in your routine. Educate yourself on what works for you. Try out different things, and take a little time to research common ingredients. Always take a look at the label and be aware of what you are applying to your skin.

Some different types of treatment:

For skin brightening & dark-spot fading, I love Murad’s Essential C line of brightening products. Especially the Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum.

Anti-aging and anti-wrinkle. Start with these BEFORE you start to see the lines. Prevention is so much easier than repairing damage. Pay special attention to the eye area, where you first start to notice age.

Hyaluronic Acid is a key skincare ingredient, as it helps to repair the skin’s moisture barrier and bind moisture to the skin. Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream is a favorite of mine. Look for this on your moisturizer’s label. $18


Don’t skip this step. Even if you have oily skin–you MUST use a moisturizer! The number one misconception that I hear working in the industry, is people thinking that moisturizer is only necessary when their skin feels dry. Nope! Always! You need  to apply moisturizer every morning and every night, after cleansing/toning/applying treatment.

Choose a moisturizer with SPF. Sunscreen is a MUST. If you are completely in love with a moisturizer that lacks SPF, no worries, just add a sheer SPF liquid into your cream/lotion/gel/oil. Shiseido has a so many great options of SPF coverage.

This should always be your last product applied, to lock all of the precious ingredients that you chose so carefully in previous steps.


I have a selection of masks and peels to supplement my routine, every few days it’s something new. So much fun to be had here.

Caudalie has a great Instant Detox Mask with bentonite clay, to tighten pores and detoxify the skin. $39

Raw Honey is excellent as a mask for hydration, or you can opt for a less-sticky packaged option.

Lately I have been loving these one-time-use sheet masks from Sephora. $6 each

Your skincare is so important! Explore your options and try new products. My collection is constantly expanding, I love trying out new things and creating cocktails of multiple products.

Drink as much water as possible, and wear your SPF!

Don’t sweat the small stuff, stress is your skin’s worst enemy. Radiate!

Photo via Harper’s Bazaar.

Some of My Favorites

Working in the beauty industry for the past 4 years has afforded me the opportunity to play around with the creme de la creme of products. From skincare serums and masks to lighting palettes and longwear lip colors, I’ve tested them all and very much enjoyed the luxury of surrounding myself  with these lovelies.

Here are a few of my favorite things..

Hourglass Mineral Veil Foundation Primer

I love this stuff. Super sheer, with excellent color-corrective properties. Great for calming redness. It perfects my skin and creates a smooth canvas for applying foundation. $18-72

Korres Mandarin Lip Butter Stick in Rose

I’m completely obsessed with this. Use it everyday, keep it in my pocket obsessed.

An instantly hydrating and softening lip treatment and tint in one. I love the color and the way that it it feels on my lips. $16.50

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

Brand new moisturizing cream from an amazing natural skincare line.

2 forms of hyaluronic acid hydrate & plump your skin, while papaya enzymes smooth and exfoliate. Alpha-arbutin and exotic floral extracts help to brighten hyperpigmentation spots and illuminate the complexion. $65

Too Faced Lip Injection Plumping Gloss

Constantly attempting to increase the volume of my lips, I’ve tested my fair share of plumping glosses. I love the ones that tingle. This one is a definite win. $22

All of these products are available at Sephora.

 Photo by Tricia Cathcart 

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Get Lippy- Bold Hues A Standout Trend

Unexpected lip colors are everything right now. It’s a simple way to add edge and interest to your look.

We’ve compiled a list of several glosses and lipsticks that have excellent pigmentation and staying power.

The Lime Crime Opaque Lipstick Collection
The Lime Crime Opaque Lipstick Collection

The Velvetines matte-gloss collection by Lime Crime is incredible, with a groundbreaking formula that goes on liquid and dries completely matte. They are transfer and touch-proof, to ensure that the color will stay put only on your lips, a very important aspect to consider when you’re about to paint them a deep or bright color. Also long wearing, the Velvetines not only stay where you put them, but they also last throughout the duration of your night.

BLACK VELVET is our personal favorite. $20,

blackvelvet-lipswatch blackvelvet-packaging

Lime Crime also has a brilliant line of opaque lipsticks, in a huge array of colors that you won’t find in any other cosmetics line.

D’LILAC is our pick for the Spring Season. The perfect shade of lavender.


lipstick-packaging_7Melt Cosmetics is another great brand for unique colors. The formula is long-wearing and non-transferable, both extremely important qualities to look for in a standout lip color.

We especially love the hues BLOW, DGAF and BANG! BANG!

Ultra matte and bold lipstick by Melt Cosmetics,  in BLOW
Ultra matte and bold lipstick by Melt Cosmetics, in BLOW
The MELT lipcolor palette
The MELT lipcolor palette, available on

Waze, A Superior Mode of Travel

You’ll never open Maps again. The Waze app is all about contributing to the ‘common good’ out on the open road. Outsmarting traffic, together.

By connecting drivers to one another, Waze creates local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving. Users update real-time information as they travel, cluing other drivers in to essential information like police ahead, traffic jams, road closures, hazards on the road or quicker routes to the destination.

The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.
The Waze interface is easily accessible while driving, and has a lock to prevent drivers from becoming too focused on the application while behind the wheel.

Waze offers all of the navigational perks that you find in the iPhone’s Maps app or Google Maps, but with the added bonus of real-time updates and user interaction. Think of it as minimally involved Facebook and Mapquest rolled into one.

After registering, users create a profile and earn points based on interaction with the app. You gain points every time you use Waze on a drive or update your route with activities like road reporting, fuel price reports, editing the map, adding street names or house numbers, etc.

The points are a nonessential, but will earn you fun additions to your profile, like the ability to choose from various icons to represent your presence on the road. Users can also update their current mood, join groups, chat with other nearby users and upload photos to ‘map chat.’ Anything from a passenger selfie to an accident photo is acceptable here.

An extremely helpful app, Waze will redirect drivers around closures or areas of heavy traffic, and will loudly notify when police or hazards are reported ahead- saving time and frustration for everyone on the road.

So rest easy knowing that Waze has your back when it comes to cops ahead waiting to ruin your day. Applaud yourself for ensuring that they won’t succeed this time.


BarkBox, Keep Your Pup Entertained

An effortless way to keep Fido’s mind and body in top shape, BarkBox is a subscription service that makes monthly deliveries of presents for your pup.

When you sign up for BarkBox, every month you will receive a box in the mail with four or more carefully selected products and presents for your dog – anything from toys, bones and all-natural treats to hygiene products and innovative new gadgets.

A monthly box of goodies will arrive, specially chosen for your canine companion.
A monthly box of goodies will arrive, specially chosen for your canine companion.

At, you input your dog’s size so that the toys and treats are tailored to thier liking; and then you choose a monthly plan. There are several purchase options on the site, bundles starting at $19/month.

10% from each box will go to help doggies-in-need. Shelters, rescues, training programs, low-cost spay and neuter programs, search and rescue organizations and sanctuaries all benefit from BarkBox’s donations.

BarkBox is an easy way to keep your pup entertained and feeling loved. On an average month, you will buy a few new toys and treats. This way you can ensure that you won’t forget, and even better- the toys and treats are all-natural and always unique.



Get into it: Aquaponics

Fishtanks are awesome. Not only are they nice to look at, but they also house colorful little dudes who get to exist along with you in your home zone.

Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals, like fish, in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment.

Your aquatic pals’ excrement is broken down and used by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.

We found an easy Aquaponics startup for you to grow fresh produce right in the comfort of your own home – beans, basil, thyme, baby greens, oregano, mint, parsley, spinach and many others.

An Oakland duo called Back to the Roots manufactures the at-home Aquaponics system they’ve named AquaFarm.

This closed-loop ecosystem uses the fish waste to naturally fertilize the plants above. In turn, the plants clean the water for your pet fish.

AquaFarm is available from Back to the Roots’ website, and we’ve even spotted some in Whole Foods aisles throughout Northern CA.

The Aqua Farm is easy to use and nice to look at.
The Aqua Farm is easy to use and nice to look at.


Get Around in Chicago, Innovative Ways to Ride

With the Ventra fiasco giving the Chicago Transit Authority a hernia as of late, and the cold weather making it extremely difficult to dig our cars out from the snowy streets, we thought it would be beneficial to share some travel innovations that are picking up speed in the windy city.

We've found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.
We’ve found a way around those rude drivers and smelly, expensive taxi cabs.

Of course there’s one thing that you can always fall back on: taking a good ‘ol cab. Hundreds of these guys trolling the streets of any given Chicago neighborhood- but you never really know what you’re in for when you stick your hand out for a ride.

On-Demand Ride Sharing with Uber and Lyft
These two smartphone applications connect users with a nearby driver at the touch of a button. Drivers are background checked and personality screened to ensure a safe and friendly ride for patrons–even their cars must pass a safety and comfortability screening before being sent into the field.

It’s cashless and donation-based, with rates starting at only $6 for a ride. After connecting a credit or debit card with your account, the application does everything for you after only a few selections. All you need to to is request a pickup at your desired location, and the app will scan the area for the closest drivers, and send one your way.

You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it's not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it's the secret sign of Lyft!
You may have seen cars with giant, plush, pink mustaches attached to their front grills… no, it’s not a new and obnoxious type of bumper sticker- it’s the secret sign of Lyft!

Lyft notifies you when the driver is on his or her way, sending photos of the driver and car so you know exactly what to expect. Change your mind? No problem, cancel the Lyft with no repercussions.

Uber has an additional feature where users can select the type of vehicle that they will be in need of: basic taxi/ black car/ SUV/ Limo, etc.

Gaining popularity across the United States, services like Uber and Lyft are most commonly utilized in highly populated urban areas, like the city of Chicago. Sometimes the drivers even provide refreshments and snacks for their riders–probably in hopes of coaxing out a higher donation–but hey, that’s ok, everyone’s happy with a sucker in their mouth, right?

Divvy Bike Rentals
Divvy is a Chicago-based bike sharing system that allows users to rent bikes from various stations around the city. Featuring thousands of bikes at hundreds of stations from Andersonville to Hyde Park- Divvy is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Every station has a touchscreen kiosk, station map, and a docking system that releases bikes using a member key or ride code.

Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.
Divvy has set up bike stations at various locations all around Chicago to make the bike-sharing system an effective mode of transport.

Annual memberships can be purchased online at Divvy’s website, or 24-hour passes can be printed from any Divvy station- but only annual members will receive a unique Divvy key. Annual memberships are usually $75 for the whole year, but right now annual memberships are on sale for $65.

You’ll get unlimited 30-minute trips for the duration of your membership or temporary pass. Run an errand, grab a bite, commute to work or school… simply ride back to any Divvy station and return the bike once you’ve reached your destination.

Divvy crews are constantly monitoring the stations to ensure that they are neither full nor empty. Having just started in 2013, Divvy is already the 2nd largest bike sharing system in the United States.

According to the website, the word “Divvy” means “to divide and share.” This new bike system aims to connect us all and help to build a stronger local community.

Of course, some minor biking knowledge is required to use the system. Don’t forget your helmet, leave the headphones off, and pay attention to your surroundings…. otherwise you might end up notoriously riding down the Lake Shore Drive Expressway, just like this chick: