What I’ve Bought Lately

What I've Bought Lately

I vaguely recall posting something a few months ago about trying to save more money…perhaps by spending less? But when it comes to beauty items that I can’t live without, all bets are off. So when I ran out of my beloved Stila foundation over the weekend (thanks to the pretty new packaging that makes it hard to tell when you are running low), I had to make an “emergency” trip to Ulta.

While I was there, I couldn’t help but pick up another tube of L’Oreal’s Voluminous Mascara (if you haven’t tried this yet, it is seriously amazing!). The creamy formula will give you the longest, thickest lashes of your life. You can thank me later!

And since I finally figured out how to properly get that soft-wavy look with a curling iron (thanks to this post), the Triple Sec 3-in-1 texturizing spray from Dry Bar was a must (and came highly recommended by the salon at Ulta). I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but here’s hoping that for the price, it works magic.

If we can change the subject for a minute, I must tell you about the lace-up flats from Old Navy. I saw them in the store about a week ago and decided while waiting on the checkout line that I didn’t really need them. Fast-forward one week, and I had major #FOMO, so I returned and scooped them up on sale. Now, all is right in the world and I am looking forward to sporting these blue beauties.

What have you purchased recently?

April Buys

April Buys

After a beautiful Sunday that hit nearly 60 degrees, my spring game is feeling strong. I’m sure we will have a few more cold spells this month that will delay my off-the-shoulder dreams (I’m ready to scoop up that blue striped Mossimo number any day now), so in the meantime I’ve rounded up a few other pieces that will work for the unsteady April days ahead.

Over the weekend, I scored the floral workout leggings (seen above) from Old Navy after seeing a girl in my kickboxing class wearing them. I loved the print, and when she said that they were only $16, I knew where my next stop later that day would be. While at Old Navy, I spotted the field jacket (also seen above) and will definitely be returning for that piece. It will be ideal for the chilly mornings—or impending rain this week.

What is on your must-have list this month?

The (Seriously) Last-Minute Gift Guide

The (Seriously) Last-Minute Gift Guide

So here we are…down to the wire. In T-minus four days it will be Christmas and you haven’t even started shopping. Don’t despair (I say this as a reminder to myself as well). We are getting dangerously close to the point of no return when it comes to online shopping and having your presents wrapped and under the tree in time. With that said, plenty of retailers make shopping in-store a breeze. If you have a long list, I would suggest hitting up Target, Ulta, Sephora, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, and Gap for all of your gifting needs. I was at Gap over the weekend, and their inventory (combined with the sales!) made for easy shopping. The plaid shirt above was a recent purchase of mine, and given how soft the fabric is and how affordable the price was, this gift is a no-brainer. Of course, the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick set (bonus points: it includes the glitterazzi top coat) is a gift that is hard to beat.

Regardless of what you decide to purchase for your loved ones, it is crunch time. I hope this last-minute gift guide (along with this one and this one) have helped you out this holiday season.

Stay sane and happy shopping!

Birthday Buys

Birthday Buys

As my birthday month concludes, nothing makes me happier than opening the last of my presents (even if I did gift them to myself). If you follow me on Snapchat and Instagram, you may have watched as I opened my Black Friday/Cyber Monday purchase from Anthropologie — the Letters in Lights earrings set. Yes, I have been on quite the earring kick lately!

But that wasn’t the only thing I bought myself this month. On a recent lunchtime visit to Target, I stocked up on lots of sweaters. If you haven’t been there in a while, I highly suggest you go. I purchased a cream cowl neck Mossimo sweater that I will be buying in however many other colors it comes in. It’s that cozy – trust me! And since Mossimo can do no wrong, there may have been a cardigan…a burgundy long-sleeve shirt, and another oversized sweater that also found their way into my winter collection.

On the beauty front, what would a month (or a week be!) without a stop at Ulta? Naturally, I ran out of my beloved Stila Smudge Stick in Lionfish (still using that one and still love it) and with the holidays coming, I was in desperate need of a new nail polish. Insert Chick Flick Cherry from OPI — the perfect shade for the winter months (and a nice alternative to red).

Thank you for indulging me as I celebrated my birthday month!

The November Agenda


November is my favorite month. Why, you ask? Because it’s my birthday month — and by month, I mean you get to celebrate your birthday for an entire month. At least, you should be able to, in theory. I know I might take my birthday a little too seriously (okay, a lot seriously), but I really do love my birthday. And this year is a big one. Yes, that’s right, I’m turning 30 — and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’ve learned so much in my twenties, but I am ready to put them behind me and move on to a new decade.

In the coming weeks, get ready for some reflective posts. But in the meantime, let’s talk more about the best month of the year (yeah, I am a little biased #sorrynotsorry).

Do: Well, now that I have announced it is my birthday m-o-n-t-h, I need to plan something special. But a party planning extraordinaire, I am not. I’m thinking a quaint bed and breakfast, complete with some time at a spa and a leisurely breakfast in bed should do the trick. Clearly, I am open to suggestions. So if you have done anything fun and memorable to celebrate a birthday, I want to hear all about it!

Try: I talked about taking an online calligraphy class a while back, and as a birthday present to myself, I will be participating in a one-day calligraphy workshop being held this month here on Long Island. Swell Anchor Studio is a creative calligraphy shop that specializes in wedding and event stationary. I found the studio while scrolling on Instagram, and was delighted to see that it was based on Long Island. Check them out for beautiful prints and be sure to follow along on Instagram and Snapchat (@livinginsteil) for some behind-the-scenes from my day at the workshop!

Go: November is also a great month because Long Island Restaurant Week takes place. The event runs from October 30 – November 6, 2016, and features tons of fabulous Long Island restaurants participating in the 3-course prix-fixe dining event. So if you are in the area (and don’t feel like cooking), head over to the site and make a reservation. But hurry, the event ends on Sunday, November 6th!

Buy: There have been lots of beauty buys happening this month (and last!). Although my obsession with Stila has never ended, I did switch to a lighter foundation for the summer months. Now that fall is upon us, I’m back using my Stila Stay All Day Foundation. And while the product itself is great, Stila has upgraded its packaging, and it is very visually appealing. So the next time you are in Ulta, take a look at their new and improved line.

Thank you for bearing with me as I make a fuss over my upcoming birthday. I’m excited to share a fun little reveal with you in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

What’s on your agenda this month?

Fall Beauty Buys – Part I

stila star light star bright highlighter palette

I have been on quite the beauty kick lately. It’s amazing how a new lipstick (or highlighting palette) can get me excited for the upcoming work week. Lately, the object of my affection has been Stila (surprise, surprise!).

stila star light star bright highlighter palette 2

I thought I had to wait months before the launch of Stila’s new Star Light, Star Bright Highlighting Palette…but I was wrong. When I stopped at Ulta last week, I was pleasantly surprised to see the palette in stock — and now in my beauty bag. I know, you’re probably thinking, ‘Didn’t you just buy a bunch of highlighters from Laura Geller?’ Yup, I did. And while I have enjoyed them, something about this Stila palette proved irresistible. Perhaps it was that the palette contained three shades: Transcendence, Kitten, and Bronze. Or that all three of the highlighting shades could be worn separately. But what sold me is that I could blend them together in one simple stroke for the perfect effect (I’m all about quick and easy).

I’ve been using the palette for about a week now, and it not only brightens up my complexion but also my morning routine. I love how it accentuates my cheekbones and gives me a subtle glow — which helps when you can’t get up on time and are scrambling to get out your front door on those kinds of mornings!

While I wish I could say I stopped after this purchase, on a separate visit to Ulta I was powerless to resist scooping up Stila’s Naturally Nude Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick Set. Stay tuned for a future review and to see the gorgeous trio of shades in action!

Summer Squad

Summer Squad

My summer essentials are fairly simple — light makeup, good lipstick, and an easy skincare routine. While this may sound straightforward, my desire to try new products keeps me busy at my local Ulta.

This summer, the products on my must-try list include an organic sunscreen (most leave my skin greasy, or worse, ruin the finish on my manicure — if you have any brands that you love, please let me know in the comments), a light foundation that gives me a dewy glow (here is a review of the last foundation I tried), and a toner to get my skin clean and clear before bed. Of course, a good illuminator and a nice lip stain, like the ones from Stila, are always summer staples.

I’d love to hear if you have any summer beauty staples that you can’t live without!

Beauty on a Budget

Beauty on a Budget

Save: Foundation//Eye Shadow// Eye Liner// Mascara//Lipstick
Splurge: Foundation// Eye Shadow// Eye Liner// Mascara//Lipstick

I’m packing my bags again for a quick trip to Rhode Island for the rest of the week. As always, there will be plenty of content on the blog (and I’ll be active on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil), too). If you have any suggestions on where to go and what to do while I’m there, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Which brings me to today’s post, as I pack up my makeup bag. I can’t go to Ulta without buying way more than I need. That happens to you, too, right? Do you ever wonder which products are worth splurging on, and where you can save a buck or two?

Here are my rules of thumb when it comes to spending money on beauty products:

Foundation (splurge): Since I have sensitive skin, I will splurge on foundation. Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Foundation has been my go-to for years, as it doesn’t irritate my skin and provides full coverage all day. For more affordable options, I’ve had luck with L’Oreal’s True Match Foundation and Neutrogena’s Skin Clearing Makeup.

Bronzer (save): I’ve tried lots of bronzers over the years from Bobbi Brown to Neutrogena and never noticed much difference between the brands. I’m currently using one from Stila, but I plan on trying another brand during the summer months. Have any favorites you’d recommend?

Eye Shadow (both): With lots of great palettes on the market, it can be difficult to decide whether to save or splurge. I say, invest in one good palette that you can get a lot of use from. I used to save when it came to shadows, but then I bought Stila’s Eyes Are The Window palette and it has been a game changer. It has just the right combination of colors and comes with a handy chart featuring different ways to wear the shadows. Bobbi Brown and Urban Decay also offer great palette options.

Eye Liner (Save): There are tons of liners on the market from pencil, to liquid, and smudge sticks. Here’s a good place to save some money and just buy the drugstore brands.

Mascara (Save): I’ve posted reviews about mascaras before and for the money you can’t beat L’Oreal’s line. This is a category that is a definite save for me.

Lipstick (both): Maybelline’s Color Sensational line has been one of my favorite lipsticks for years. The pigments are bold and rich, and for under $10 you won’t feel guilty buying more than one. Of course, every season I like to indulge in one really nice lipstick from NARS.

Flat Iron (splurge): This may not be applicable to everyone, but flat ironing my hair is a huge part of my daily routine. When I started flat ironing my hair in high school I used Hot Tools. For a number of years their flat iron was the only one that worked on my hair. The price was reasonable, but unfortunately my preferred model got phased out and then became impossible to get. I tried one from BaByliss, and while it was infinitely more expensive, it also worked better while being less damaging on my hair. If you flat iron your hair often, you may want to consider making the investment in good tools.

What items do you save or splurge on?

Stealing the Spotlight: Stila’s HUGE Extreme Lash Mascara

Stila's Huge Extreme Lash Mascara

I’m back with another installment of Stealing the Spotlight. And, of course, it’s a product from Stila. I swear, I do use other brands (but what can I say? Stila makes awesome stuff!).

I made a quick stop at Ulta last week to pick up my beloved smudge stick (yes, from Stila). While I was there, I realized that I was almost out of mascara and I grabbed the two-step Voluminous Superstar from L’Oreal’s line (it will be making its way to the blog soon). Coincidentally, as I was at the counter paying for my purchases, I was gifted a travel size of Stila’s HUGE Extreme Lash Mascara to try.

Normally, I avoid expensive mascara. I think the drugstore brands work quite well, often better than their more pricey companions. You may recall that I’ve posted before about L’Oreal’s mascara line and I have been quite impressed with its quality and price.

Stila's Huge Extreme Lash Mascara


Stila's Huge Extreme Lash Mascara


Since I was gifted this little travel size mascara, I had to test it out. Upon first inspection, I thought the brush looked slightly thick and clumpy. But like all of Stila’s products, I (and my lashes) ended up loving it. I didn’t notice a huge improvement in the length of my lashes, but I saw a drastic difference in the volume. The thicker brush made my lashes appear fuller — and made for easy application of even the smallest little lash. One or two coats should do the trick, or else the mascara will make your lashes clumpy. In terms of all-day wear, don’t worry, this product will stay on for as long as you need with no flaking or fading.

The verdict? Would I buy a full-sized version of this mascara for $23? Probably.

Have you tried Stila’s HUGE Extreme Lash Mascara yet?

Stealing the Spotlight: Stila’s Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette

Stila's Eyes Are The Window Shadow Palette

I finally took the plunge and bought this palette from Stila. If you follow my blog, you know two things: I love all of Stila’s products and this palette has earned a spot on every wish list and gift guide I create. But the $49 price tag always made me think twice about buying it…until now.

After using my Stila eyeshadow trio down to the very last spec, I rationalized this purchase as a need, not a want (are you proud, Suze Orman?). Okay, you are entitled to be shaking your head in disagreement, but at least it is a purchase I will use — and it will last me for many seasons to come.

Stila Eyes Are The Window Shadow Palette

I found my soulmate when I spotted Stila’s Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette aptly named — Soul. See, it was meant to be! This palette contains 12 eyeshadow shades from the perfect base color to an every day shimmer, plus darker buildable tones. Trust me, this palette is all you will ever need in your makeup arsenal. I can already tell that Kitten, Affection, Thought, Peace, and Vitality are shadows that will be on repeat.

New to the whole eyeshadow game? Stila provides a handy chart with the palette to show you three ways to mix and match the shades — ranging from smart, sophisticated, and sexy. If you prefer lighter or darker tones, try the other palettes Stila makes in Mind, Body, or Spirit.

Stila's Eyes Are The Window Shadow Palette

Can we talk about the packaging for a minute? The product alone is fabulous, and the rose gold case could have won me over just on looks. I think we can all agree that rose gold is having quite a moment. I know I shouldn’t judge a palette by its packaging, but I just did!

Have you tried Stila’s Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette?