When I find a beauty product I love, I stick with it. Often it takes many years to find the ideal beauty product for you and sometimes you never find it. In fact I’ve been looking for the perfect mascara and hair spray since the late 1980s. Still searching!

It’s a good thing I also love to try new beauty products. I always enjoy getting my hands on samples of beauty products I’ve not tried before or, even better, getting a recommendation from a friend.

Today I’m the recommending friend, telling you about my very favorite beauty products that I use on a regular basis.

These are my 11 Favorite Beauty Products:



Dry Shampoo: I prefer to keep my hair quite long and pay special attention to products that help me abuse my hair less.  As I am sure you already know, blow-drying and styling your hair with heat tools can dry out and damage it. I try to wash and style my hair as little as possible and will even avoid blow drying in favor of a natural dry when I have the time.

Dry shampoo has kept me from many extra washings and stylings over the years. One advantage of being in my late 40s is my hair doesn’t need to be washed daily anymore as my sebaceous glands don’t produce as much oil. These days, I can go up to three days without washing my hair but I still need help from dry shampoo to keep it fresh looking.

This Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-powder Shampoo is my very favorite. I use it every day. It’s not a spray but rather a fine powder you shake onto your scalp. I started using it right after I dry and styled my hair instead of waiting until the second or third day.

Here is a dry shampoo tip from my hairdresser, Kimberly of Dolce Vita Salon: shake (or spray) dry shampoo onto your roots then wait about a minute. Let the powder settle into your roots before brushing or fluffing your hair. Try using a blow dryer on a low setting to spread the powder around rather than a brush. 


Scalp Exfoliant: I read an article about scalp exfoliation and thought I might be someone who would benefit from a good scalp scrub. With all the stuff I put on my head – dry shampoos, hairspray, mousse, gel, plus the residual shampoo that doesn’t always get rinsed off thoroughly – it made sense that an exfoliation now and then would be a good idea.

I decided to try Caviar Clinical Exfoliating Scalp Facial by Alterna. Not only did it feel great to scrub my scalp, but I love the results. It made my hair shinier and softer and it was so clean and fresh.

I use it about once every three weeks. I apply it while in the tub so I can be precise. I section my hair off with clips and rub the exfoliant into my scalp one area at a time, using its brush tip in circular motions. When I am done I rinse it out, then shampoo and condition like normal.


Texturizing Spray: My hairdresser introduced me to Rene Furtherer Style Vegetal Texture Spray during my last visit and I am hooked! It gives me the added lift, volume and texture I want – the way dry shampoo does – but it’s an invisible spray so no powdery residue to brush out. It goes on quickly without any fuss and it smells nice too!



Face oil: I try a lot of skin care samples and rarely come across one that motivates me to track it down in a full-size and buy it. That is just what happened when I received a sample of Bobbie Brown EXTRA Face Oil which showed up with a Macys order several weeks ago.

I was wary at first to try the oil. Wouldn’t oil make my face greasy and cause me to breakout even more than I already was? I was curious enough to give it a try and after using it for four days, I was sold.

Several weeks in and I have had no breakouts whatsoever and my skin feels smooth, soft and hydrated. I apply it an hour or so before bed so it will soak in before I put my face on my pillow. During the day, I wear Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Moisturizing Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 25.

I can’t say enough good stuff about the face oil. I haven’t come across a product my skin has been happy with in a very long time. And a little goes a long way so it’s not a huge expense.


Toner: I love these simple Witch Hazel Pads by Thayers and swipe them across my face before I apply face oil or moisturizer. Gentle and refreshing, they also remove traces of makeup and dirt leftover after I wash my face. These pads contain aloe vera as well, which makes my skin feel soft and supple.

I will be using these often during hot summer months when I want to feel refreshed. I may even store them in the fridge!


Makeup Remover: I bought this bottle of Simple cleanser at Target in Seattle last fall after my luggage disappeared and I lost most of my toiletries. It’s a great makeup remover. I mostly use it to take off my eye makeup before, and sometimes after, I wash my face.

It’s also handy to have around when I occasionally just can’t get it together to wash my face at night. It does the job without leaving a greasy film and it doesn’t cause me to breakout.



Eyebrow FillerBobbi Brown Brow Kit helps my thinning brows look soft and natural while still filling in where needed. It comes with a small angled brush for application and mini-tweezers, making it ideal for travel or carrying in your handbag. It’s really easy to use too and there is much more room for error than using a gooey brow gel, which is what I used to use.


Lipstick and Lip Gloss: I discovered Pretty Girl Makeup, created by Northern California makeup artist to the stars, Christina Flach, at La Brocante in Sonoma.


I was drawn to the Rich Husband lipstick, first for its name and then for the color. It’s just about perfect for my coloring. I’ve never been one to wear red lipstick so when I want to wear a darker, more dramatic color, this is the one I reach for. In fact it’s what I wore for my B.R. Cohn Winery photoshoot.


Soul Mates is their sheer light pink lip gloss and my everyday, throw-on-and-go gloss. I also use it over dark lipsticks to soften the color and shine up my lips.

Baby Love, in the photo below, is a hot pink gloss and my new spring favorite. There is something about adding the right pink hue to your lips that makes you look more vibrant and youthful. It brightens up my entire face.


Blush: I used to wear cream blush all the time in my 20’s and forgot all about it until about a year ago when I came across Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Stick Blush in No. 21.

This cream blush stays on so much longer than my powdered blushes and it deposits more color on my cheeks. It’s also convenient for carrying in my bag for touchups should I need one.



Nail Vitamins: I have learned the hard way not to mess with my thin and flimsy nails too much.  My nails were destroyed a couple of years ago because I was too impatient to have my gel polish taken off by a professional. I peeled the polish off myself, more than once, causing damage that took at least a year to fully recover from. No more gel manicures for me!

I was introduced to Rainbow Light’s Nail, Hair & Skin at the Whole Foods event last summer. A bottle was in the swag bag and I decided to give it a try.

With my soft and wimpy nails, I am happy just to have healthy looking nails let alone long ones. So when, after a few months of taking these vitamins, I started to see some length I was thrilled!


Nail Polish: As far as polish goes I am favoring the natural look these days, even on my toes, and will either wear nothing on my nails or a coat or two of this clear Perfect Formula polish. I love this brand because their line has none of the toxic TPHP found in many polishes and it’s a woman-owned small business.



What favorite beauty products do you recommend to friends?

A reminder that the deadline for How I Wear My: Tote Bag submissions is this coming Monday, February 29th. Send a photo of you in your tote bag look to [email protected] to be featured. Please include a description of your outfit too! For more information, visit the How I Wear My page.

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Make it a rich day!




eyelash extensions

Before I get into my post today, I want to acknowledge what a tragic last few weeks it has been. The Paris and Beirut attacks, as well as the Russian jetliner explosion, have left many of us feeling sad, confused and lacking hope for peace.

I took most of the week off from blogging because my heart wasn’t in it and it felt strange to write about frivolous things at time like this. But when a French friend who lives in Paris wrote to me today telling me how she is doing her best to live her life as normally as possible, taking time to focus on the positives, I had a change of heart.

Julie wrote, “I try to appreciate small pleasures each day, a hot coffee break, a smile from a stranger, the beauty of the Seine when I cross a bridge. All of these small – yet huge – details that make life worth it.”

Reading her words, I feel both inspired and ready to enjoy the things I love, including blogging with all its frivolity and lightness.

So today, instead of being full of worry and immersing myself in the latest news reports, I want to blog. I want to share with you my recent experience getting eyelash extensions. You can’t get much more frivolous and light than that!

Hopefully it will provide you with a welcome distraction and a bit of useful information should you consider getting eyelash extensions yourself, perhaps for the holidays.

Along with being a career lifestyle blogger, I am also a freelance writer. North Bay Woman Magazine, a Marin Independent Journal publication, often offers me writing assignments. For their Fall 2015 issue they asked me to write a beauty piece that would include trends in eye makeup, eyebrow shaping and eyelash extensions.


We thought it would be an interesting addition to my article to have me experience eyelash extensions firsthand. I would be getting my own set of eyelash extensions!


I met with certified eyelash extension technician and esthetician, Tish Vargas, who works at The Lash Room in San Rafael. Stuart Lirette, a professional photographer, met us at the salon to take photos of the experience. All of the following photos –  except the last one – were taken by Stuart, courtesy of Marin Independent Journal.

Tish and I quickly got acquainted before moving onto the topic of eyelashes. Tish wanted to know what sort of look I wanted to achieve. Did I want dramatic lashes that were long and thick and curly? Or did I want to go with a more natural look? We both decided somewhere in between would be best for me. I didn’t want my lashes to look too distractingly long and thick but I also wanted to see real results.

Tish decided she would use a natural curl with a variety of colors and lengths to achieve the most natural looking, yet still glamorous, results. Our own eyelashes aren’t all the same color and length so it made sense to me that she would choose a mixture. She said the longest lashes she would use would be 12 millimeters and to remember that number should I go to a different technician for a fill.


As you can see, my eyelashes aren’t bad to start with.


They aren’t particularly thick, long and lush nor are they short and sparse. I was excited to see how adding eyelash extensions would change my look.


I got comfortable on Tish’s table while she prepared my eyelashes. First she cleansed my eye area then added silicone patches under the first eye, on top of my lower lashes, so glue would not get on them.


Eyelash extensions are applied carefully and meticulously. Each individual artificial lash is adhered, with glue, to one natural lash. A skilled technician will be sure to follow the direction of the natural lash to avoid crisscrossed lashes.

Tish asked me if I use an eyelash curler. I did at that time, not knowing I was breaking off some of my lashes every time I did so. She told me I had lots of very short lashes that were caused by my daily curling routine. Needless to say, my eyelash curler was thrown away when I got home.


As I mentioned, adhesive is used in the process and can be irritating to your eyes. The irritation wears off but it does cause a bit of temporary redness and discomfort. An experienced technician knows to go easy with glue application. Too much glue will not only make the lashes bind together but it can also feel heavy on the eye and be annoying.

Another challenge is being still while having your eyelash extensions put on. It’s not easy for a fidgety person like me to sit still. Tish told me some of her clients find the process relaxing and will fall asleep while others, like me, have a bit of a hard time staying calm and still.


With one eye done, about an hour and 20 minutes into the appointment, it was time to take a break and have a side-by-side photo taken. I was delighted with the initial results!


After a few minutes, it was back the table for the other eye. A little over an hour later, I was done! Tish removed my patches, used a brush to fluff and straighten them and my eyelash extension application was complete.


After Stuart took a few more “after” photos, Tish gave me some information about caring for my new lashes:

I was to not wash my face – at least not my eye area – for 24 hours. And when I was ready to wash my face, she advised not to use any oil-based products like makeup removers because they would loosen my lashes. She also told me to use the little brush she gave me after washing my face to straighten out and smooth wet lashes.


Here is my “before” and my “after” – quite a change!


There are pros and cons to having eyelash extensions.

First, the Pros:

  • They make me look younger and I feel more glamorous!
  • They save me loads of time getting ready. I didn’t wear a stitch of eye makeup for the few weeks I had the lashes on. I couldn’t believe how much time that trimmed off my makeup routine.

The Cons:

  • Sleeping is a challenge if you’re prone to sleeping on your face or side. I often woke up during the night because I could feel my lashes pressing on the pillow.
  • Washing your face is tricky. You want to clean your eyes and your eyelashes because if you don’t, they could get infected from a build up of bacteria. So while you must wash them, you have to be gentle or your lashes may fall off. It takes some getting used to.
  • They are expensive. My lash extensions were $175 plus tip.
  • If you want to keep your lashes for a long period of time, you will have to have fills every three or four weeks which are time-consuming and the expense can add up quickly (about $75 – $100 at most places for a fill).
  • You will most likely lose a few of your own lashes in the process as I did. Thankfully mine quickly grew back and, after a few weeks, are looking the way they did before my extensions.
  • The procedure itself is tedious, time-consuming and can make some people (like me!) antsy and even a bit anxious.


You’re probably wondering if I would I have eyelash extensions again. Yes! If I had a special occasion coming up or just wanted to give myself a little boost by doing something glamorous – but not permanent – to my appearance I would have eyelash extensions again. But it is not a beauty enhancement I would want to wear all the time. It’s a bit too high-maintenance for me.

If you happen to live in the Bay Area and are looking for an eyelash extension technician, I would highly recommend Tish. She did an excellent job, is a very friendly and professional person and she’s both skilled and knowledgeable about eyelash extensions.

Thank you, Tish, for a great first experience with eyelash extensions! Thank you also to North Bay Woman Magazine for allowing me to have this fun and glamorous beauty procedure for the article and to Stuart for the photos.

To read the digital version of my article, as well as my travel feature on page 50, visit this link.

Have you ever had eyelash extensions?

If not, would you consider getting them?

Make it a rich day!



Disclosure: North Bay Woman Magazine covered the cost of my eyelash extensions for the purpose of providing content for my article. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.