Nine Things I've Learned in Nine Years of Beauty Blogging

A lot has happened since 2005. A Girl's Gotta Spa! began as a beauty blog intended to help other women, short on time, discover meaningful reviews and tips that they could incorporate into their daily lives. It was also a way for me to connect socially with women in Read more

Hydrating DIY Coconut Oil Foot Scrub

Feet are always in need of some restoration and hydration no matter the season. Whether you’ve had a long day at the office, you’re suffering from dry flip-flop feet, or you’re trying to break in a new pair of heels, there is nothing a DIY at-home foot scrub can’t Read more

GR8SKN Acne Spot Treatment

Teen skin issues are in full force in my house. Thankfully my sons have taken an interest in caring for their skin and always come to me with questions about how to clear up blemishes, moisturize and cleanse their skin, and for my oldest, asked my husband to show Read more

Lemon Ginger Lavender Spa Elixir

With the change of season it takes an extra dose of effort (and nutrients) to ward off dreaded colds. The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, N.C.) is treating spa guests to a soothing seasonal Lemon Ginger Lavender Elixir that will be more pleasant on the palate than cough syrup! Chef Greg Gettles shares his recipe for a refreshing, Read more

NEOVA Copper Moisture Mask

Copper has many skin care benefits including the promotion of collagen and elastin production, as well as acting as an antioxidant. Copper peptides help to firm, smooth and soften skin, and it's said that copper can accomplish it in half the time compared to most other anti-aging skin care Read more

Cosmetics

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…

~Fredericke

*All products mentioned can be found at www.iqbeauty.com.

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

Violet Cat-Eye Liner Puts a Funky Spin on the Classic!

Colorful liner is definitely having a major moment, but swapping a bright color for your tried-and-true black or brown and actually having the guts to pull it off is easier said than done for some. However, with the right shade, the right trend, and the right balance with the rest of your makeup, you’ll see that a little beauty risk can go a long way this season, whether you’re looking to amp up your dull daytime look or put a fresh spin on your go-to going-out makeup.

One look I’m loving is the violet cat-eye. Though a bit dramatic in appearance, cat-eye liner is actually quite minimalist in style — one enthusiastic swipe of your liner and an otherwise bare lid makes for a pretty easy-to-do, yet statement-making look. Modernize this classic Old Hollywood style by giving it a violet spin with bold liner. Since violet is such a bold hue, soften the look by using a smudge-able pencil or gel liner for better control of exactly how bright you want your results, or apply a bright shadow with a wet brush for maximum color pay-off. Or if you have a steady hand and are ready to jump right in with bright violet liquid liner, try Dior Style Liner in Sparkling Purple!

Also pictured: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Gel Eyeliner in Stay Violet, Clarins Single Eyeshadow in Vibrant Violet, Estee Lauder Eye Pencil in Untamed Violet, and Smashbox Limitless Eyeliner in Black Violet.

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

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Posted on by Shannon Smyth in eyeliner, Makeup Leave a comment

Keep Brows Tame & Defined With a Tinted Brow Gel


As my experience with makeup has progressed from my blue eyeshadow and roll-on glitter phase (what? I was in 6th grade!) up through my more modern love for shimmery bronzer and eyeshadow primer, I’ve always had that one staple I can’t live without — my “desert island” makeup item. It used to be concealer, back in my teenage years of unpredictable skin, but then I unofficially switched to black eyeliner when I went through my more “artsy” days in college.

Nowadays, however, tinted brow gel is my new favorite beauty staple. Given the thin yet wiry (and extremely stubborn!) nature of my brows, I love how this product serves double duty by adding subtle tint (without the whole over-penciled “coloring book” effect), defining my brows’ shape, and keeping them orderly the whole day through. It’s amazing how much of a difference neat brows can make in the overall look of my face, and I love how tinted gel does wonders in making them look put-together in just a few simple swipes!

Clockwise from top left: Dior DiorShow Brow Fixing Gel, Stila Brow Polish, Laura Geller Brow Tint & Gel Tamer Duo, and Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel.

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, brows Leave a comment

The Coolest Trend In Lip Gloss Is Crystal Clear!

While I have a fairly extensive stash of what I consider my go-to lip colors — soft pinks, tawny neutrals, barely-there nudes — I often forget about the most versatile gloss “shade” of them all: clear! There’s something refreshing and effortlessly sexy about clear gloss, and while it definitely has a reputation for being totally “blah” and *gasp* plain, the right ultra-shine formula can make your pucker look anything but boring.

Clear lip gloss puts a whole different meaning to the term “nude lips,” since it really does enhance your natural lip color, just with a glassy, glossy finish. It’s fresh and pretty without ever looking overdone, and let’s face it — you never have to worry about it clashing with your eyeshadow! For example, MAC’s basic Clear LipGlass has always been a favorite of mine because of its high-impact shine and long-wearing formula, but it’s definitely not the best choice for a windy day when you’ve got your hair down! For a little extra shine, try Yves Saint Laurent Smoothing Lip Gloss, which packs some subtle shimmer on top of its glassy shine.

Clockwise, from top: Urban Decay XXX Shine Lip Gloss in Ozone, MAC Clear LipGlass, Bobbi Brown Crystal Lip Gloss, Yves Saint Laurent Smoothing Lip Gloss in #15 Clear Shimmer, Elizabeth Arden Crystal Clear Lip Gloss, and Cover Girl WetSlicks Lipgloss in Clear Radiance.

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in lip gloss, Makeup Leave a comment

Makeup Consultation with Christopher Drummond at The Lodge at Woodloch

This past weekend I had the opportunity to head up to one of my favorite local spas, The Lodge at Woodloch, to meet up with makeup artist Christopher Drummond for a 1:1 consultation. Christopher Drummond Beauty is now being sold in The Lodge at Woodloch’s spa boutique and I am so excited that Northeast PA gets to experience this spectacular vegan makeup collection.

I’ve known Christopher for about 4 years now, but this was the first time we actually had the chance to meet in person. Like a mother hen, I am so proud of him because I knew him when he was just launching his line with only 1 product at the time: Saude Pele Radiance Booster. When I walked into the spa boutique, Christopher was working with another customer so I had a chance to talk with The Lodge at Woodloch staff, my favorite being Stephanie who was so personable and funny, I was ready to give her my phone number so that we could hang out some time. There’s nothing better than being able to feel at ease in a spa where the atmosphere is inviting versus some that are so pretentious with their noses in the air (do you know what I mean?)

When Christopher told me I had to arrive without any makeup on, I was ready to put a paper bag over my head with holes cut out for the eyes. My skin just happens to be breaking out and I feel like a new age spot is debuting on my face every day. Christopher promised that the products he would be using from his line would conceal the flaws and highlight my natural beauty. (Chris and I were laughing hysterically before the picture on the right was taken. This is our “trying to be serious” shot.)

Here is the before and after shot (i.e. before shot was at 10:30am sans coffee):

The biggest thing I notice between the two pictures is how much my eyes pop. Christopher used Alluring Apricot Sateen Blush on my eyes, Soft Black cream to powder eyeliner and his mascara. On my face he used Concealer in Light, Veludo Velvet Foundation in Luz/Light, Finale Finishing Powder in Branca/White, Alluring Apricot Sateen Blush and Bronzing Powder. Lastly, on my lips he used Coral Reef Lip Stain (LOVE.)

If there is anything that I can say about this makeup, it’s that it feels as light as air on your skin. With the concealer, it is creamy with great coverage without feeling thick or cakey. And the best part is that you only need tiny dabs of it on your skin, so a little goes a long way! The Veludo Velvet Foundation is AMAZING–velvet, indeed!

You can find all of these products online at www.ChristopherDrummondBeauty.com or if you are local here in Northeast PA, stop by The Lodge at Woodloch‘s spa boutique to see them in person (and book an out of this world spa treatment while you are there! I know that their Lotus Salon and I will have a date for a pedicure soon enough!)

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in blush, bronzer, concealer, eye shadow, eyeliner, foundation, lip stain, makeup tips, mascara, mineral makeup, Pocono Spas & Salons 4 Comments

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

Get Your Pre-Summer Glow On with an All-Over Highlighter

It may be a tad too early to get a naturally sun-kissed glow (I suppose that will have to wait until after Spring Break), but that’s only more of a reason to fake it in the meantime! For the pre-Summer season, put the full-blown tan on hold and opt for a subtle neutral-toned shimmer that strategically highlights your best features — eyes, cheekbones, decolletage, etc. — without looking out of place or out of season in the rainy weather. Thanks to these handy all-over highlighters, you can multitask by playing up multiple features at once and cover larger surface areas like shoulders or legs (but be careful not to over-luster!), or pin-point smaller features for maximum impact like the inner corners of eyes or just underneath the brow.

For extra sheen (or if you’re prone to flaky skin), use a cream-based highlighter like Edward Bess All Over Seduction highlighter or Trish McEvoy Highlights All Over Face Color, or for a pretty all-over shimmer, dust Victoria’s Secret Brilliant Shimmer All-Over Powder to speed along shorts season with glowing gams! MAC Special Reserve Highlight Powder is the perfect universally-flattering sheer champagne hue for a luminous glow, or customize your perfect shade of shimmer with Stila All Over Shimmer Duo!

- Alex Gambardella

*Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in brows, Makeup, mineral makeup Leave a comment

Natural Precision Comes Easy Thanks to These Brow-Defining Pens

Not to state the obvious, but not everyone is blessed with lush, full brows a la Jordana Brewster or Brooke Shields. Of course, some gals may consider bushy brows more of a curse, but take it from a girl who’s sadly brow-challenged — I wish I had a little more to work with. After all, it can be tough to master the skill of filling them in and faking it like a pro, especially when it’s easy for brow pencils and tints to look too “drawn on” upon application, especially for darker-haired girls. So not cute.

Now, the idea of eyebrow pens may seem more problematic than helpful when it comes to avoiding the whole “cartoonish” brow look, but the truth is, felt-tip tints are an easy way to maintain precision and shape while still providing a more natural, softer tint than a pencil. The pen-inspired applicator gives you more fill-in control than, say, a pressed powder and brow brush, and the tint is less harsh than most pencils. Of course, it’s important to still apply wisely — use feathery strokes rather than simply “coloring” in brow shape to maintain the natural look and avoid looking too severe!

From left to right: Laura Geller Brow Marker, Sephora Collection Brow Tint, Anastasia Brow Pen, and MAC Penultimate Brow Marker.

- Alex Gambardella

Guest beauty post for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! from my friends at TheFind.com.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in brows, 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

Fig & Olive Melrose Place Grand Opening with Fendi & Frederic Fekkai

Last night I had the opportunity to debut myself in a new role: as West Coast Correspondent for A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Thanks to Shannon (my “casting director” if you will) I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Los Angeles location of Fig & Olive restaurant, and it was a thing of beauty all the way around!

Each night of the three-part grand opening extravaganza featured one of Executive Chef Pascal Loran’s three main regional culinary influences (France, Spain and Italy) Last night was Italian Night and was sponsored by Lamborghini and Fendi, with hair by Frederick Fekkai. The Italian-influenced appetizers were to DIE for (mozzarella stuffed cherry tomatoes, parmesan risotto, grilled shrimp crostini, and many more extravagant meat-based appys that looked amazing but I couldn’t eat!) while the loft space and gorgeous lighting created the perfect setting for models wearing looks from luxurious Italian house of fashion, Fendi.

The looks were chic, colorful, and crisp and the models were styled similarly with sleek parted ponytails and dewy-fresh faces. I was happy to see the creamy coral shades on all the model’s lips, as I was rocking a bright orange lip myself that night! The orange-instead-of-red lip color is my favorite new makeup trend for Spring, and it was nice to see how surprisingly wearable it is on different complexions. The models all looked gorgeous!

Fig & Olive proved to be a fun as it was elegant, delicious as it was stylish …and I will certainly be back!

Posted on by Ava Gaudet in Hair Care, lipstick, Makeup Leave a comment