Paula Dorf Aztec City Eye Color Palette

I was so excited to have the opportunity to try out some Paula Dorf products.  The company sent me two items: the Aztec City Eye Color Palette, and Lash Color in Teal.


The mantra of the company is so empowering: “Become Your Own Makeup Artist”.  And with 5 eyeshadow shades to mix and match, the palette allows you to do just that.  I have brown eyes, so I tend to gravitate towards sandy neutrals with a white highlight (which the palette provides), but the blue and silver of the set is subtle enough for women to wear with all colorations.  I actually found myself using the sky blue as a base – out of my normal comfort zone, but that’s what the exploration is all about!  The powders are very soft, so even the most daring of combos are acceptable for the professional woman.

The packaging is high quality, as well.  The palette includes a mirror and a dual brush that is probably my favorite surprise of the entire set.  Really helpful for crease-work, and to mix wet/dry application.  At just $36, the set is amazingly priced compared to comparable brands.


The lash color in teal was equally as exciting.  I normally stick to a standard black mascara, but I did notice my sister-in-law wearing a blue shade this summer, and have been wanting to try it ever since.  Instead of providing a stark electric quality to the eye area, I found that it provided a subtle color differentiation that really played nicely with natural sunlight to highlight the handiwork of the eye palette.

Pick up your own palette (or gift it during the holiday season!):  …. The company offers free shipping on orders $50+!

Sephora Collection: Rose Mask

A few weeks ago, I tried out the Ginseng Mask and had quite a few emails and messages from readers asking if I had experience with any of the other masks in the collection.  I actually received a Rose Mask in the same haul, & settled down with a good book to try it tonight.

The mask retails at the same price point as the Ginseng version ($6), but whereas the Ginseng tones and revitalizes, the Rose is intended to moisturize and brighten.  I definitely have some recent dry patches on my face – what with the return of cold weather + the final days of pregnancy – especially around my nose and on one cheek in particular.  So I was excited to see the results!

Fragrance: Unlike the over-powering hit of Ginseng on the previous mask, this has a very pleasant rose smell.  It actually reminds me of the scent of the Dior Rose Lip Balm (if you haven’t ever tried that, it’s worth looking into).  The scent does not linger on your fingers or face after use.

Product: This mask was saturated, but not quite as much as the Ginseng mask.  I did find that it was still challenging to unwrap the fabric while avoiding tears, but not too difficult.  I noticed this go ’round that the mask is actually quite cold upon initial application.

Sizing: Oversized, the same as the Ginseng mask.  I imagine every mask in the line is the same.  I did have an issue this time with it falling over my nose during use, even though I had folded it up again.  But it otherwise stayed put nicely.


Freaky mask mug shot – worth it!

Timing: Directions are 15 minutes.  I actually became so relaxed that I left it on for closer to 45 (and I usually follow beauty directions to a T).  Because of this, I did not have as much excess product when I removed the mask.

Result: My skin does feel plump.  I did notice a glow.  Very relaxing.  It does seem to have better temporary results than a daily moisturizing routine.  There was no greasy feeling or unpleasantness.  No skin sensitivity.

I do have a few other masks from this collection, so my intentions are to use them more frequently – about once a week.  Be sure to check back next Monday night to see if I stuck to my guns.  The great thing about these fabric masks is that they’re hands-free, so even if we’ve welcomed Daughter #2 into the world in the next few days, I can throw one on before catching some quick shut-eye!!

Do you have a favorite mask?


Holiday Shoe Party

I found myself daydreaming about the holiday party season (despite the fact that I will have a newborn and will not exactly be hopping around the social scene).  In my book, dresses can be simple, outerwear comes off as soon as you arrive, jewelry can’t compare to holiday ornamentation …. but it’s time for your shoes to shine.  And my go-to shoe is a festive heel – how better to kiss your tall Prince under the mistletoe?

We all know I love my Kate Spade Charm Heels.  So much so that I previously wrote about how you can incorporate them into your casual wardrobe.  This season, I’ll continue to dream of a White Christmas – complete with the snow glitter of these beauties.

Have you picked out your holiday footwear yet?


Sephora All Occasion Eye Ensemble

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t often wear eye make-up, of any kind, with the exception of mascara.  There is probably two contributing factors to this: 1) I wore glasses from the time I was in first grade through my second year of college, and anyone with lenses will tell you that it’s often a fruitless endeavor and 2) because of this I never took the time to play much with products designed for the eye region.

So I was really excited to get the Sephora ‘All Occasion Eye Ensemble’ – it does much of the hard work of eye pencil selection for me by pre-packaging the ten most popular colors.  For those looking to buy it, it’s $49 (but a $100 value, so essentially if you use these pencils you’re getting them for 50% off, or $5 per pencil instead of $10).  Colors are: Black Lace (1), Clubbing Stilettos (2), Diamonds Are Forever (5), Girl Talk (7), Girls Night Out (9), Tiramisu (13), Good Mood (20), Summer Cruise (23), Purple Stilettos (31), and Welcome to My Loft (38).  These colors all have a metallic coloration to them, which is perfect for the holiday season.


Pros: Lasts for 12-hours (highly pigmented).  Waterproof.

In a second burst of excitement for the ‘not so eye savvy’ like me: the set contains two eye tutorials (with diagrams & directions).  The first is an ‘Easy Smoky Eye’ (utilizing Black Lace & Diamonds Are Forever), the second an ‘Eyes Tie Dye!’ (utilizing Diamonds Are Forever, Summer Cruise, and Good Mood).

I’ll definitely be playing around with this set over the next week, and will be sure to post my results from the tutorials.  In the meantime, do you have a go-to eye pencil?

DIY Easy Up-Do

I was recently going through wedding photos, once again reliving my happiness at how great a job my talented hair stylist did for my bridal party.  But as much as I wish someone would come to my house every day and do my hair for me (now accepting applications….), in actuality I would love to redo this hairdo on my own for the holiday season.


In thinking back to my nuptial styling, I’ve compiled a “DIY Hairstyle Dupe” with just a few easy steps:

1. Comb through dry hair, and proceed to curl hair are over with a standard 1.5″ barrel

2. Tease top of hair for volumizing affect

3. Pull hair back into a low ponytail

4. Add festive handband to accentuate teased bump

5. Take side wisps from the front and braid; cross over in back and pin with bobby pins.

Voila!  Easy up-do.  Let me know if you try this for the holiday season!!  Do you have a go-to party do?


5 Red Lipsticks For The Holiday Season

A week or so ago, I shared my infatuation with the Sonia Kashuk lip line.  Admittedly, I’m currently addicted to Sunkissed from that collection, which is more of an orange-y tone.  But my posting led to several conversations about red lips with readers (thanks for reaching out – I love to hear from you!), and I decided to peruse my lipstick collection and determine five red shades that can carry any girl through the holiday season.



Nars in Manhunt ($26) – I have so many favorite reds from the Nars collection that it was hard to choose just one.  The company describes Manhunt as a “sheer poppy red”, which appeals to me on two fronts: firstly, it reminds me of driving through France on holiday, and secondly it helps me overcome my inherent fear of coming off too “Betty Boop”.  It takes a confident woman to wear a red lipstick, and I’m only there 70% of the time. #RealTalk  … Despite being ‘sheer’, it still has a very creamy texture and bold color, with pigmentation that will last you throughout the day.  If Manhunt is too bold of a hue, perhaps try Flair – more cranberry than Santa Claus in nature.

Yves Saint Laurent Volupte Sheer Candy in Luscious Cherry ($34) – Girlfriend, this is a cult classic, so if you can get your hands on it, DO IT.  There’s no telling how many waiting lists you’ll have to endure if you don’t snap it up while you can.  As the name implies, this smells like delicious cherry pie.  It’s incredibly moisturizing on the lips, which is such a plus as we head towards the winter season.  The company describes the red as having a “golden shimmer”, but I would describe it more as “I just ate a lollipop” – and I say that in the best of ways.  Note that ‘sheer’ to YSL is just that, and much different than the ‘sheer’ utilized by Nars to describe Manhunt.  Again, if you want a darker red, try ‘Mouthwatering Berry’.

Bite Beauty in Cranberry ($24) - I actually acquired this color in a limited edition set of four, but you can purchase the High Pigment Pencil to do the trick.  It is a deep red with a matte finish.  The company claims that “each lip pencil contains the amount of resveratrol found in five glasses of red wine” but I haven’t found myself with the time to test that out in my science lab (maybe after the baby debuts?)  If you’re more on the pale side, you might try ‘Pomegranate’ as an alternative.

Sonia Kashuk in Red Orange ($10) – You know how I feel about this color from my previous post.  If you’re looking for a spectacular budget option for the holidays without sacrificing quality, I say go for it.

Sephora Collection ‘Kiss Me Balm’ in Candy Apple ($8) – Perhaps the perfect stocking stuffer for your friends?  It’s a scented lip balm and the color is very subtle, so you won’t have those ‘Will she ever wear it?’ gifting regrets.  The egg-shaped container reminds me of the Eos design – fun to throw in a purse for whenever the need arises.


Have you tried any of these colors?  What is your go-to red for the holiday season?

Bling Bling, Wedding Rings

The Twitter-sphere is all abuzz thanks to Lauren Conrad, who recently Instagrammed her “manicure” and has the world discussing her intent to show off her wedding ring.  To this I say: who cares whether she wanted to show off her polish or her bling?  I might just have to do the same thing.  A wedding ring is perhaps more spectacular than your normal shots of finger candy and midi-stacks.  It carries such meaning, often intimate, and it likely one of the only pieces of jewelry you’ll continue to wear in old age.  Let’s celebrate – I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?
















Sephora Collection: Ginseng Mask

Highlight of my day/night yesterday?  Getting to leave the house for about 30 min to swing by the Sephora Holiday Soiree.  (For those following the blog, you might know that we’re essentially on ‘baby arrest’ as we count down the final days of our pregnancy.)  I didn’t get to stay for long – register, make it through the store, grab goodies, swipe some sparkling grape juice, back home exhausted.  But I immediately dug into my Sephora goods when I returned to Casa Mahlburg.

I don’t often use masks.  Not because I don’t enjoy them – because I do – it’s just because they’re one of those self-indulgent things I never necessarily find the time for in my busy life (okay you say, how can someone not take 15 minutes at the end of the day to relax their face?  Touche.)  Regardless, I had some I used in college that I discovered in Birchbox, LOVED, and then quit stocking.  Since then, I actually can’t remember the last time a mask made it into my routine.

Enter the Sephora Collection Ginseng Mask.  This retails for $6, so not too bad on the wallet if you’re looking to spoil yourself.  (That price is for a single mask).  It’s a fabric mask, which I prefer to jarred products.  It claims it is for toning and revitalizing – two things I desperately need in this pregnancy, so we got down to business!

Prep: Before applying the mask, you should cleanse your face.  I simply used my go-to makeup remover - Aveeno Active Naturals Ultra-Calming Makeup Removing Wipes (Husband, if you’re reading this I’m almost out, in case you find yourself at CVS.  Love you!)  I know some people prefer to exfoliate before application of a mask but 1) I find that I don’t have dry patches on my face so I skip that step and 2) I haven’t really explored a good exfoliator in a while.  (If you have suggestions, let me know!)

Fragrance:  Holy ginseng, batman!  Most masks have a smell to them, but when you unwrap this mask, the ginseng is overpowering (said from a girl who is not often around ginseng).  After application, however, the ginseng smell becomes part of the relaxation experience.

Product: This mask is DEFINITELY saturated – no skimping there.  In fact, there is so much product in the fabric of the mask that I had to be extra careful while unwrapping it, so that I didn’t tear any sections.  That being said, once the mask is properly applied to the face, it stays in place – no dripping, no running, easy to multi-task.

Sizing: I know many people complain that fabric masks are often too small for their face (Example: doesn’t extend enough to get the tip of the nose, etc).  Maybe I have a small face, but I actually found this mask to be rather large,  I had to scrunch it in sections to free my nose/mouth/eyes and secure it on the sides, but once it was in place it stayed comfortably throughout application with no further issues.

Sephora GInseng Mask

Time: 15 minutes once applied.  Then remove fabric, and massage any excess product into face.

Result: My skin does feel more supple after this mask.  I haven’t been getting this result with my moisturizer lately, so it was worth it!  No stickiness or oil feeling from the product, it soaks in nicely.

Do you have a favorite mask?

Primers: NARS vs Smashbox

I’ve only started using primers in the past two years.  Before then, I didn’t understand what a difference a good primer made in one’s overall make-up routine.  Over the course of these two years, though, I’ve tried and compared a few different ones, and I keep coming back to NARS as a must-use product.

Prep:  Primer is a few steps into my morning routine.  First, I ensure that I have a clean face.  Then I spritz with Urban Decay b6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray, and let that soak in for a few minutes.  I’ve found that the prep spray helps reduce redness, minimize pores, and absorb oils.  Next I moisturize.  I have a few different favorites, but for the past few months I’ve been using Dior Hydra Life Creme Sorbet Pro-Jeunnesse (Pro-Youth Sorbet Creme).  I have ‘Normal’ to ‘Combination’ skin, and it doesn’t leave me feeling oily or unpleasant, while giving a nice plump to the face.



Contender #1: NARS Pro-Prime Pore Refining Primer.

This is actually the first primer I ever used.  I switched to a different NARS primer when I depleted my first purchase, but now I’ve come back to it with open arms.  The best part about this primer is that it’s oil-free.  Once applied, makeup goes on matte, so you avoid shiny T-zone areas.  It goes on quite smoothly – try it and then run your hand across your cheek. Baby soft.  It can get a little pricey ($34), but it lasts a long time and is worth it for the quality.  Foundation application is made so-much-easier. (I use a liquid foundation, and then go over it with a powder foundation). But I also sometimes wear it without make-up – stopping at this point in my routine to get the benefits of the skincare, without worrying about getting dolled up.  Especially for weekends, or outings to the grocery store.

Contender #2: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer.

I’m a firm believer that you can’t really appreciate a product until you have something to compare it with.  So at one point near the end of a NARS tube, I picked up a travel-sized Smashbox selection.  I had heard good things about the brand, and I have to admit that my experience with this primer was also wonderful.  (NARS just happened to be the best of two good selections).  This primer is also oil-free, and hydrating.  It’s actually MORE expensive than NARS, which doesn’t happen often ($42), and this is probably a worthy deciding factor to stick with the NARS selection. [The travel size that I purchased was around $15, which is a good option if you want to try it out for yourself.] I find that the Smashbox primer, while long-lasting, did not have the staying power that the NARS primer does, and it did seem to be a little shinier application, instead of having the true matte absorption.

Have you tried either of these primers?  Do you have your own favorite primer that you’d recommend?  Let me know!

Sonia Kashuk Satin Luxe Lip Color SPF 16

It’s not often that I find myself using, let alone reviewing, products and brands outside of the Sephora umbrella.  And when it comes to lipstick, I have a pretty strong loyalty to Nars.  But given the chance to check out Sonia Kashuk’s Satin Luxe Lip Colors I thought – ‘Hey, why not?’

The line offers 13 different colors, ranging in tone from ‘very nude’ to ‘very red’.  I would have liked to see more oranges and pinks in the selections, but for your department store perusing, it’s not a bad rainbow of choices.  The Sonia Kashuk line is pretty expansive, and complementary tones can be found in other products.  Priced at just $9.99, each tube is close to a third of the price of high-end alternatives.


Packaging: Very simple, black square tube.  Seems like this is how they cut some of the product cost.  Best part of design is the square color swatch at the end of the tube – very helpful in selecting a color without having to open, especially for busy mornings.

Smell: None

Taste: None

Positives:  The colors go on smooth, as would be expected from a product utilizing “satin” as a title descriptor.  But the real win here is how long-lasting the pigment tends to be.  Satin lipsticks often veer towards “slide on, but slide off” and this color can make it through the Starbucks Peach Green Tea Lemonade without batting a lash.

Double Positive: SPF factor.  I was the kid who never wore chapstick and would pick and bite at her cracking lips.  It wasn’t until college that a suite mate pointed out the importance of lip care, and it’s stuck with me since.  Although I have a pretty conservative make-up routine, and rarely wear anything on my face while pregnant, I can get behind some lip pigment that’s serving a dual purpose and moisturizing my lips instead of drying them out.

Negative: Not as opaque as you might like, but satin lipsticks tend to have that issue compared to matte lipsticks.  Just make sure to go into the relationship with those expectations.

Best Colors: Classic Red, Sunkissed, Red Orange, Blushing

Pro Tip:  Apply it after applying a lip liner to prevent feathering.