Best Items for Baby, Pampering for New Moms

This post is sponsored by on behalf of Single Edition Media. Opinions are my own and the adorable baby is all mine. Dear new and soon-to-be moms, It can be difficult to navigate this crazy new season in life called motherhood and finding the perfect items for your baby all while taking Read more

A Meditation Teacher’s 8 Tips for Better Sleep

Since having Ethan last year, and a few months prior to his birth, sleep has eluded me. Before getting pregnant, I would take melatonin or unisom before bed because my insomnia was so bad. Although Ethan is 1, he still doesn't sleep through the night, which means I can't be Read more

Vole Hair System Review

Don't miss the 20% off promo code below!! My hair has not been at its best this summer.  Sun, salt water, humidity and heat, plus constant styling to battle the heat and humidity all tends to strip my hair leaving it looking and feeling dry and dull. This may sound a bit dramatic, Read more

Spa Pedicure at Utopia Salon & Day Spa in Hawley, PA

The best part of living in a tourist area (the Poconos), is that there are a lot of little gems waiting to be discovered. For me, this gem has been right in front of my face for 13 years. I've driven by Utopia Salon & Day Spa countless times, but Read more

Reflekt Facial Exfoliator Review

This luxury facial cleanser makes skin feel amazing! I've been using Reflekt Skincare for the last 6 weeks about 2-3 times per week. In the summer, a regular cleanser alone won't do the trick to thoroughly rid my skin of all the "gunk" that warmer weather brings when wearing makeup, Read more


Makeup Review: GloMinerals GloBlush

I find myself in the market for a new blush only every so often. Like most women, I have my staple products that I know and love (hel-lo Nars Torrid blush), but I do like to test out new products once in a while to make sure I’m not missing out on anything.

I was excited to learn about GloMinerals products. A beauty brand comparable to the beloved Bare Escentuals line, GloMinerals promise flawless skin with oil-free, light reflecting pigments, and SPF of 15 in most products.  Personally, I’ve always felt mineral makeup is the way to go.  It’s good for your skin and always leaves a natural, radiant finish…not to mention it’s incredibly easy to apply.

Thanks to my Irish roots, I have very fair skin with naturally pink undertones. For this reason I tend to select peach-toned blushes to play down any redness and add a hint of bronze glow to brighten up my face (especially during those sun-deprived, vacation-less winter months).

I selected GloBlush in Nectar – a peachy powder with a nude shimmer. When applied to my cheekbones and blended out to my temples, it highlighted my face nicely and gave a nice natural glow for daytime. I loved the color as a simple everyday look, and am definitely planning on trying their powder cheek stain (yes, a powder stain!) for a more bold look in the future.

Check out the GloMinerals website to view all products. If you need another reason to go shopping, the site promises a free gift with purchases over $150.00. Have you tried any of GloMinerals makeup?

Posted on by Amanda Huggins in beauty, blush, Makeup, mineral makeup Leave a comment

Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 with Dermaxyl

I have never really seen the point of primers and tended to regard them as a way for a cosmetic company to sell a product that is essentially superfluous. That is until I bought Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 ($17) and discovered that it completely transforms the look and behavior of foundation to create a super smooth and long-lasting look. OK, I get it now. But there’s a lot more going on with this primer.

Smashbox Photo Finish SPF15 is an anti-aging version of its cult status foundation primer, Photo Finish. In addition to sunscreen ingredients, it boasts something called Dermaxyl, which makes this version of Photo Finish an anti-ager. Makeup morphing into skincare is a trend that we are going to see more of. In a way, this makes Photo Finish something of a BB cream, these new multitaskers that are all the rage in Asia and are taking off in the US. But do these additional bells and whistles really add up to much?

My guess is that Smashbox’s Dermaxyl is one of the collagen-boosting peptides that is known as Matrixyl 3000, palmitoyl oligopeptide, and antioxidant green tea and grape seed extracts. Plus there’s kola seed (which is a source of caffeine) and moisturizing ceramide-2. These are all worthwhile additions and I like the thought that a humble primer is doing my skin some good.

On the other hand, I would prefer Photo Finish SPF15 if Smashbox hadn’t decided to include a sunscreen at all. I can see why it wouldn’t choose chalky (but relatively safe) zinc oxide, but I wish it hadn’t opted for the toxin and estrogen mimicking, octinoxate (although researchers disagree on the concentrations needed before it becomes harmful). The other sunscreen used here is the relatively safe octisalate. There’s also diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, a UVA absorber, which the EU has pronounced as harmless in concentrations up to 10%. So, all in all, it could be worse. There is, though, retinyl palmitate and this is increasingly being regarded as to be avoided if exposure to sun is expected as research has shown it to be carcinogenic.

There’s a ton of silicone here, but then it is a primer after all and that silky layer has to be achieved somehow. Most of the other ingredients, even the solvent methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, seem to be fairly benign.

Before buying this again, I’d prefer that Smashbox made a few formula alterations such as leaving out the retinyl palmitate and finding alternatives to phenoxyethanol and propylene glycol. But until then, Smashbox has given its cult primer a nudge in the right direction for those of us that want makeup to contribute to their anti-aging regimen.

For more honest reviews and information about beauty and personal care products, visit

Active Ingredients: 7.5% octinoxate, 5% octisalate. Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, methyl perfluroisobutyl ether, methyl perfluorobutyl ether, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, safflower seed oil, cola acuminata seed extract, green tea, grape seed extract, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, tribehenin, ceramide-2, PEG-10 rapeseed sterol, palmitoyl oligopeptide, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, water, ethyl trisiloxane, caprylyl methicone, methicone, silica, silica silyate, hexylene glycol, propylene glycol, triethoxycaprylysilane, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, (+/- iron oxides, titanium dioxide)

Posted on by Marta Wohrle in anti-aging, Makeup, Primer Leave a comment

mark Celebrity Makeup Artist Mai Quynh 3 Steps to Summer Makeup

We’re now in the throes of summer (I’m sure Back to School commercials will begin playing any day now…) and that means dry heat, humid weather, finding a way to make your makeup last from day until night. I recently asked Mai Quynh, mark Celebrity Makeup Artist, if she could pass along 3 summer makeup tips (which would include mark makeup of course!) Read on…

Summer makeup should be easy and effortless. Definitely wear sunscreen all year round, not just in summer.  Try mark Get a Tint Tinted Moisturizer, it has a built in SPF 15 and it has light coverage which is great for evening out the skin. Lightly dust, mark Matte-Nificent Oil-Absorbing Powder on the t-zone to set.

For the eyes, stick to waterproof formulas  This will help keep your makeup on longer and it will stay put.  I love mark Keep It Going Long Wear Eyeliner and Eye Shadow Duos. They come in plenty of colors and they do not budge! They seriously last all day.

My other favorite product for summer are the mark No Place To Run Eyeliner pencils. They are very creamy eyeliners and they go on smoothly, but they also don’t budge. They stay on for many hours.  Also, use mark Lash Splash Waterproof Mascara. This will guarantee that you won’t have smudges or runs from hot, humid weather. Lastly, my other summertime fave are the new mark Lip Click Color Shine Lipsticks. They are sheer but give a hint of color and they have an SPF 15.

So there you have it! (Most important tip here for me is lip gloss with SPF!) Have you used any of mark’s products?

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, eye shadow, eyeliner, lip gloss, Makeup, makeup tips, mascara Leave a comment

Bailey Cosmetics 5 Easy Piece Kit from Beauty Never Sleeps

In this video, I review Bailey Cosmetics 5 Easy Piece Kit ($129) from Beauty Never Sleeps. I love this kit for a variety of reasons: the blush is the only one that has ever been perfect for my skin tone, the foundation powder is really lightweight, the lip gloss is gorgeous and I love the mesh pouches that can be easily removed and sorted. I do also love the eye shadow duo that comes with this kit (it’s a taupe color and darker brown), but the only flaw was that it does crease.

Nevermind the jean jacket and sweater you see here (since I am posting this in July), I made this video in March when I switched cameras and only figured out how to upload it now.

If you’ve used this line, please let me know what you think of it!

You can see more of my video reviews on A Girl’s Gotta Spa! YouTube channel. Want more video reviews? Just let me know!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in blush, bronzer, brows, eye shadow, eyeliner, foundation, lip gloss, Makeup 1 Comment

What’s Your Favorite Three Custom Color Product?

Many thanks to Three Custom Color Specialists for featuring me in their newsletter today! Three Custom is allowing me to give away a special code to receive $10 off any product on their site to the first 30 people to comment on this post. In your comment you must tell us which 3C product is your favorite OR which 3C product you are dying to try. (*US only, age 18+. Only one entry per person/per household/per email address.)

For me? I love their Light Clarifier Pencil, Mini Pressed Cool Bronzer and Twinkling Rose Gloss.

Comment away–and I will email the first 30 the code!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in bronzer, eyeliner, giveaway, lip gloss, Makeup 41 Comments

Review: Illuminare Beyond Black Everlasting Eyeliner

Guest beauty review from Marcia who writes the beauty blog, Beauty Info Zone, along with her blog partner Lisa. She’s been writing about cosmetics for 11 years, but has been a beauty aficionado for decades (and decades.) She used to have nightmares about being without eyeliner so you’ll find a lot of eyeliner reviews from her on her blog.

There is nothing quite like a black eyeliner. It goes with everything and just about everyone needs one in their life (I’m speaking about you beauty lovers of course.) Through my blog partner I’ve learned about one that has blown her socks off so of course I had to buy it for myself and see what she was raving about. Now my socks are blown off too so it’s a good thing it’s not winter in my part of the world. That eyeliner is Illuminare Beyond Black Everlasting Eyeliner.

This is the blackest of any black eyeliner I’ve ever tried and I’m sure I’ve come close to trying them all. I love eyeliner and don’t go a day without it. My two favorite kinds are gel liners and liquid eyeliners. The texture of Illuminare’s Beyond Black is unlike any in my collection. It’s very creamy, actually it’s more like a mousse texture. The first time I dipped my brush into it I was surprised at the softness of it. Because it’s so soft you have to be careful with the amount you pick up so you don’t overdo it.

I use the Paula Dorf Eyeliner brush (holy grail item for me) since I like a fine line. The application of Beyond Black with this brush was the smoothest I’ve ever tried. It is so soft and so silky yet it dries down instantly. If you make a mistake with it you need to work quickly since it sets up so fast.

I don’t normally wear liner on the waterline but I decided to try it out for the sake of review. This black is so intense that it was more obvious than any I’ve tried before therefore it was too much for me, but I admire how it looked and lasted. The day I tried that I removed it after 6 hours and other than one area on my waterline where it was patchy, it was as black as when I started. On a normal day of wearing Beyond Black Everlasting Eyeliner it lasts the entire day, top and bottom lash line. You’d think with that kind of wear it would be a bear to remove, but that’s not the case at all. I use Mary Kay Eye Makeup Remover and it came off quickly and cleanly.

You can find Illuminare on their website but I bought mine from Dermstore since I love their policies (including free shipping). If you are a black eyeliner lover and haven’t tried Illuminare’s out, you are in for a treat. I wonder if my black gel liners will get much use now that I’ve got this.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in eyeliner, Makeup, mineral makeup 2 Comments

4 Coral Blushes from tarte, Le Metier de Beaute and Benefit Cosmetics

Hi! I’m Cindy, the editor of Prime Beauty, a beauty blog for women 40 & over and in the prime of their lives! Prime Beauty is packed with articles on skincare, makeup, product reviews, new product launches, makeup tips and tricks, and giveaways! Features include Frugal Friday’s inexpensive drugstore beauty finds and Prime Buzz, the latest in beauty news. In addition to looking good on the outside, I hope to encourage, inspire and celebrate women over 40!

Tarte’s Achiote Cheek Tint & Lip Luster Duo

Pick the Fruit of the Lipstick Tree! Tarte has an awesome two-piece QVC spring exclusive–a cream blush and a lipstick, both in the shade Achiote, a peachy coral. The achiote has long been used by American Indians to make body paint, especially for the lips, which is the origin of the plant’s nickname, lipstick tree. I need a lipstick tree in MY backyard!

I love cream blushes for over 40 women as it gives a youthful glow to the cheeks. The blush is a little sticky, but once on cheeks it’s doesn’t feel sticky at all. It blends beautifully and can be applied for a sheer wash of color or built up. I use my duo fiber brush to blend for a completely natural “I’ve been playing outside” look. Lighter skinned beauties will appreciate the touch of pink in this blush so as not to appear too orange and darker beauties can control the application to choose the intensity they prefer.

The Tarte Achiote cheek tint and lip luster duo is available at QVC and retails for $35. I do wish Tarte would make these, the blush and the lip luster, part of the permanent line.

Le Metier de Beaute Radiance Powder Rouge

Le Metier de Beaute Radiance Powder Rouge in Echo is very finely milled, very pigmented and has a buttery texture. The color is an amalgam of pink and coral, perfectly balanced to not appear too pink or turn orange. There a slight golden sheen that imparts a subtle glow complimenting warm skin tones beautifully. ‘Radiance’ is a fitting description; there is no glitter or apparent sparkle, just a pretty golden sheen that adds luminosity to the face. I DIE! This is what I thought NARS Orgasm would do for me, but instead it was a glittery mess.
The quality of this blush is also evident in the lasting power–no fading even after 15 hours of wear. It seems to melt into the skin rather than sitting on top and looking powdery. Echo is truly stunning; a perfect choice for us women over 40 to get our glow back!

Le Metier de Beaute blushes weigh in at 0.13 oz. and retails for $30.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 hour blush in Tipsy

This spring Tarte introduced an amazing product– the Amazonian Clay 12 hour blush, a collection of eight shades infused with Tarte’s new miracle ingredient Amazonian Clay. The clay, harvested from the banks of the Amazon River is supposed to keep your skin in balance, absorbing oil and hydrating dry areas making it suitable for every skin type and age! I’m a fan of the Amazonian Clay Foundation so I wanted to give the blush a try. Inspired by Tarte’s best-selling shades of cheek stains and lip tints, the colors range from soft to vivid and are supposed to last an amazing 12 hours.

Tarte also boasts the formula contains Vitamins A and E, two natural preservatives that act as anti-inflammatory emollients and protect against free radical damage, Vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radical damage and prevents oxidative stress and premature signs of aging, while brightening the skin.  I don’t know about all that, but I know Tarte really delivers on its promise with these blushes; the quality is excellent, they are highly pigmented and really do last for 12 hours. Having dry cheeks, these blushes do not look dry or cakey on my skin and in reading reviews on the Sephora website, they seem to last just as well for oily skin types.

Tipsy is my favorite – helloooo, its coral! The compact is orange, but it’s a really nice pinky coral that imparts a lovely pinky peach flush. Apply with a skunk brush or very light hand! These blushes are some of the most pigmented I own. If your blush fades quickly and you like natural cruelty-free products with good-for-your skin ingredients, this blush is for you! I suggest going to Sephora to test the shades, they apply differently than they look in the pan and read on a computer screen. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush retails for $25.

Benefit Cha Cha Tint ($29)

Cha Cha Tint a mango-tinted lip & cheek stain, joins her sisters Benetint and Posie Tint in the Benefit lineup of cheek and lip tints. In fact Posie Tint and Cha Cha Tint may well be twins as they both have the same liquid gel texture. The texture makes it so much easier than the original watery Benetint; the thicker gel gives you more time to blend. The packaging is a small jar with a brush applicator is the same for all three. It’s scary bright orange when you open the jar, but rest assured it’s much subtler when applied. I use it by patting several small dots along the cheekbone and blending with my fingers; for more intense color, you can build by applying another layer.

Cha Cha Tint is a great product for the hot humid summer months, since it is a stain, it won’t melt off or look dry and cakey. It lasts all day and gives a soft, peachy coral flush that really does look natural. It can also be used on the lips, although I haven’t tried that yet.

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in blush, lip gloss, Makeup 4 Comments

Summer Beauty Secrets from IQ BEAUTY

Guest post from Fredericke Grillitz of IQ Beauty

Make a SPLASH and get your GLOW on in this hot weather! Here are the steps to LOOKING FABULOUS AND READY in 20 SECONDS!

I wanted share the secrets that I used working on many photo shoots with supermodels over a decade, that never failed me. I had to be fast, efficient and get the girls ready and gorgeous in an instant, time was never on my side!

IQ Beauty Must Summer Steps:

1. Always maintain a glowing texture of your skin. Add radiance to your complexion by using a tinted moisturizer from IQ BEAUTY / the fabulous one and only Sheer Activity Base with SPF 15. One color fits all skin tones! Enhance your skin tone, rather than hide behind a mask. Apply Sheer Activity Glow to refresh your glow when feeling tired.

2. Use a concealer Nude Stick to even out your skin tone and to cover your blemishes as needed. Treat lightly, you need less then you probably think.

3. Apply a creme blush! Dab IQ BEAUTY Face Glow Intimate on the apple of your cheeks. It will take off 5 years instantly!

4. Smudge a creme Eye Glow #Three on your eyelid for an instant enhancement of your eyes…very sexy !

5. Use a black eye pencil Black Jet by IQ BEAUTY and apply on the upper inner eyelid. Super soft! I quote Mrs. Naomi Campbell “best pencil she ever found”!

5. Finish your look by using a Lip-Shine product over a creme lipstick. Lip-shine IQ Song is a perfect sheer melon color, or Lip-shine IQ Pop if you prefer a pink tone. Both have shea butter and SPF 15. Both are so very fabulous for this summer! The sheer texture will compliment your already radiant skin.

Voila! Off you go into the summer sunset looking glowing, youthful and fabulous!

Enjoy your summer! IQ Beauty Style…


*All products mentioned can be found at

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in blush, concealer, foundation, lip gloss, Makeup, makeup tips, Summer Beauty Leave a comment

Clarins Neo Pastels Mineral Eye Colour & Liner Palette Spring 2011

Spring and Fall are my two favorite seasons. So as we emerge out of our more darkened, moody eye colors from Fall/Winter, Spring’s softer, romantic makeup palette is a welcomed relief.

Clarins new Neo Pastels Eye Colour & Liner Palette, inspired by watercolor paintings, creates smooth washes of color, or when applied with a damp applicator, are vibrant hues that are suitable for any face.

You can’t really tell from this image, but the lighter colors in the palette have a soft shimmer to them. The black eye liner is like a pallable gel that glides on really smooth. I didn’t notice any creasing with these eye shadows, however, I always wear a creamy mineral concealer on my eyes that always holds my eye shadows in place. The look is feminine and timeless and looks great with a very pale pink lip gloss.

What do you think of the eye shadow colors in this palette?

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Beauty Trends, eye shadow, Makeup 1 Comment

Video: 5 Year Old Makeup Guru

As a beauty blogger, I also love to do video reviews (although I am lagging a bit behind lately.) I literally set up my camera and wing a review without the script. Today, thanks to Polly over at Beauty Blitz, I discovered a little girl named Madison with a natural talent at reviewing makeup via video. As I watched her, I had to laugh because she was saying exactly what most of us say in our videos… “I received this makeup from...” “I really love it...” “You use it like this...”

And? She actually recommends products I do use and love: MAC’s Hello Kitty blush and Sigma makeup brushes. Nice job Madison!

To Madison’s mom: Would so love to send her some kid’s bath and body products to review for us here at A Girl’s Gotta Spa!

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in Makeup 2 Comments