Clark's Botanicals Ultra Rich Lip Balm

I think that I may have just found the Holy Grail of lip balms: Clark's Botanicals Ultra Rich Lip Balm ($19). It's not sticky, glossy or waxy. It has a gel-like consistency that glides on smoothly and enrobes your lips in a cushiony, healthy sheen. Jasmine extract in the formula emits the most beautiful smell.

Move over Chapstick, this is what I'd call an all-around classic lip balm. My lips go from feeling like raisins to plump juicy grapes after one swipe. And that packaging! Looks like a lucky charm, dontcha think?

Violet Grey

8452 Melrose Place

I, myself, do not wear a ton of makeup on a daily basis, but I love experimenting with new products and absolutely cannot resist a beauty counter. When I was living in New York, I'd pop into Sephora on my way home from work every day out of sheer habit. At one point, a sales associate congratulated me on becoming a "VIB Rouge Member." I asked her what that meant and she said: "It means you spend a lot of money here."

When I moved to the ranch in 2013, I was immersed in the mundane of country living and felt robbed of my secret pleasures–playing with makeup being one of them–so, after a year, I mustered up the courage to tackle the four-hour drive to L.A. alone, in hopes of reconnecting with my former self. (Me, the New Yorker, who had not been behind a wheel for thirteen years!)

Enter: Violet Grey, the brilliant editorial website-cum-boutique that was hatched from the mind of its founder Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey. Inspired by Old Hollywood glamour, this beauty Mecca showcases the crème de la crème from the industry's leading makeup artists and stars, and it's located smack-dab in the middle of Melrose Place which is, in my opinion, the chicest street in all of Los Angeles.

Stepping into this tastefully curated atelier was akin to being in Coco Chanel's opulent apartment. Everything felt intensely exquisite and luxurious. Every jar and compact and tube of lipstick was displayed like jewelry. There's also a marvelous vintage Murano glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling that looks as though hundreds of white flowers are on the cusp of showering down on you.

I think I must've swanned around in the store for about two hours, trying on everything cream, mascara and lipstick within reach, and the girls there couldn't have been more welcoming. Wouldn't it be fabulous if I had a pièd-a-terre in Paris that looked like this? Thank you, Violet Grey, for the tactile fantasy.


Givenchy Rouge Interdit Satin Lipstick in Elegant Rouge


I was invited to join my friends Bill and Alisa at a gathering at Neue House last week. Alisa is a new mother to an adorable baby boy and it was her first evening out in a while. She has such great style. She wore a black top with black leggings and had a sheer black cocoon jacket on top.

On our way there, Alisa lamented in the car that she had forgotten her makeup bag at her parents' house and had to cobble together a look using a sparse reserve of old cosmetics. When I looked at her at the party, I couldn't help but notice her lips. They looked lush and deeply red–but it wasn't your typical red. It neither retro nor vampy. It was a sophisticated and elusive color that is very hard to describe.

"What is that color?!" I exclaimed, "I must know!"

"Oh, it's this old Givenchy lipstick that I bought three years ago on my birthday," she said, "I have it in my purse. Here, I'll show you."

She pulled out a smooth rectangular black lipstick case with a grosgrain ribbon looped at one end. When pulled, it revealed a silver bullet containing the lipstick itself: Elegant Rouge.

"I bought it more for the packaging than anything else," she admitted, "And it also has this old school lipstick smell. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

"Oh, yes, of course! I know that smell. It reminds me of my mom."

"I was looking for a brown-red and this one was perfect."

"It really is," I marveled, still gazing at her lips, "Can I try it on in the bathroom?"

"Of course."

I applied it to the center of my top and bottom lips and gently blotted it outward with my finger. It was a rich brown-red with a touch of pink that gave it life. It made my lips look distinctive and seemed to brighten my complexion as well. I was sold. 

The next day, Bill offered to drive me to The Grove so that I could look for it. I found it at Sephora. There was only one left and I nabbed it.



RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up + Serge Lutens Cellophane Cils Mascara

I'm starting to adopt products that enhance what I have naturally rather than create artificial results, hence, I present to you my latest discoveries: RMS Beauty's Un Cover-up and Serge Lutens' Cellophane Cils Mascara. These are my two must-have products for looking like a fresher and more awake version of myself.

After doing some research on organic and natural beauty products, I've found that the ones by RMS Beauty are consistently given high ratings. Renowned makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift's beauty line uses raw, food grade ingredients in their natural state. This means that all of the enzymes, vitamins and healing properties stay intact which makes it even more appealing. I use the Un Cover-Up in #33 and dab it over my undereye circles. What I like about this product is that it also brightens up my eye area and the color seamlessly melts into my skin. It makes my skin look moisturized and slightly dewey–never cakey! I also love the little frosted glass pot container which fits perfectly into my bag.

As a forewarning, I must confess that Serge Lutens' Cellophane Cils Mascara is a bit of a splurge at $65 a pop, which explains why I've tried this mascara on numerous times at Violet Grey and Barneys but hadn't been able to bite the bullet and actually purchase it. When my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas this past year, I immediately answered: "This really, really amazing mascara by Serge Lutens!" He couldn't understand why I'd ask for a tube of mascara until he realized its price tag. How can I describe it? Well, it has a unique, sheer glossy black formula with tiny fibers that give your lashes length and definition, but not overtly so like all of the other dramatic mascaras on the market. Think about how your lashes look wet and pretty after you step out of the shower–that's the effect that this mascara gives you. I love that it doesn't look like you're wearing any mascara at all.

Here's a pic of me with both of them on:

If you ever come across either of these items, give them a try. They've definitely got the SGD stamp of approval!

The Road to Going Bare-Skinned

I've been trying to make an effort to be more au naturel in my daily beauty routine, especially since I now live in the mountains and our nearest neighbor is two miles away.  It's hard, though, because I'm not one of those girls who can roll out of bed and look gorgeous. I look horrible without makeup and I'll always be the first one to say it.

My complexion is your usual blah, uneven, combination skin situation. (I even started noticing freckles on my face, which might work on Pippi Longstocking but is not cute on me.) Foundation was my safety blanket and I used it every day in New York. I have made some progress, though. Since moving here, I've switched over to a tinted moisturizer, and, recently, I went full monty, so to speak. 

Amazingly, my skin has been under control lately and I think it's because I've found a skincare line that works with it: Joëlle Ciocco. I ordered the Secret Clear cleanser and Lacteal Lotion and noticed a difference immediately after using both products. My skin looks smoother and more even. It's adequately moisturized and doesn't get too oily. And there's this pearly glow that I've never had before! I was so amazed with these results that I didn't want to cover it up with tinted moisturizer. (Instead, I documented it with a selfie.)

This skincare line is pricey, I have to say. The Secret Clear is $105 and the Lacteal Lotion is $81. Maybe it's because I'm entering my thirties, but I'm willing to make a little investment to have fresh-looking skin. Maybe what it is with getting older is you have more confidence and knowledge on how to take care of your skin so you don't need to wear foundation all the time, which, incidentally, makes you feel... Younger.