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Beautypendence http://www.beautypendence.com Beautypendence is a beauty blog based in Austin and San Antonio, TX. I cover make-up, skin care, and whatever else tickles my fancy. Sun, 12 Jul 2015 04:52:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 Local Love: Dripped Nails http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/07/11/local-love-dripped-nails/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/07/11/local-love-dripped-nails/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 04:52:04 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4210 I’m so excited to bring you my first post about a local business right here in my home city, my hometown, Houston. I had read some buzz about a hot new nail salon in the Montrose area, focusing on natural nails with a specialty in nail art. Dripped Nails is right up my Beautypendence-alley.

Dripped Nails, Houston, wall of nail polishI booked a Saturday morning appointment with Christina, one of the owners. A native Houstonian, she’s been doing nails for a few years, but also, her parents own a nail salon in Pearland, so she’s familiar with the biz. Currently, they have five nail techs with an additional one coming on soon. Dripped has been open about three weeks, accepting both appointments and walk-ins.

Located on Westheimer just off Montrose, the salon is housed in a space formerly occupied by the Spy Emporium. The ladies of Dripped gutted the space to start fresh. The salon has a clean look with white interior and decor and a sleek bank of custom-built pedicure stations.

Dripped Nails, Houston, pedicure stations

Since I typically do my own nails, I was a little lost on how to get started. Christina guided me through the process. I knew I wanted some nail art and that I prefer geometric designs. I said no to studs or charms, figuring I’d have a hard time maintaining them. And I knew I had a budget of how much I wanted to spend.

I learned that I’d be getting a gel manicure, as that works best for nail art. First, I was to pick a color, and from there, we’d talk designs. Apparently, a lot of customers come in with designs-in-hand, or most likely, on-phone. I originally chose a lavender shade, but after looking at a few photos for design inspiration, we opted instead for an OPI gel nude shade as the base, then a CND Shellac dusty pink for the accent color. (NOTE: Be sure to check out their awesome Instagram account for inspiration.)

Dripped Nails, Houston, manicure stations

First, Christina removed my existing red polish and prepped my nails — filing, cuticle care, buffing. Gel formulas cure with either a UV or LED light, and once the gel polish cures, it’s completely dry. It’s a beautiful thing to walk out of a salon and not worry about messing up your new manicure.

Once the base color was applied, Christina worked on the designs. First, she painted the dusty pink half moons on the tips of every other nail. Next, came the more intricate stripe designs. She painstakingly painted cross and grid patterns on the four remaining nails. Once all the color polish was painted, she applied a top coat, and I did a final curing under the LED light.

Dripped Nails, Houston, manicure nail art

Do you know one of the secrets to making your manicure last? Apply cuticle oil daily. (SIDE NOTE: Before I go to sleep every night, I massage in Essie apricot cuticle oil followed by L’Occitane shea butter hand cream.) Properly maintained, a gel manicure can last up to 14 days. Christina applied the cuticle oil after the final light curing, then hand lotion, and wrapped my hands in warm, damp towels. I then received a quick neck and shoulder massage. Towels off, and I was ready to go.

Dripped Nails is a fresh concept on the traditional nail salon. With a super location in town and fair prices (a straight gel manicure is $40), you should book your next mani-pedi at Dripped. And don’t be afraid to step up your manicure game with some fun nail art. This is the place to do it.

finished nail art manicure by Dripped Nails, Houston

Images: author’s own


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Introducing Agonist Parfums http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/06/21/introducing-agonist-parfums/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/06/21/introducing-agonist-parfums/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 04:45:15 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4191 When you think of Sweden, what comes to mind? Water. Long days. Ikea. Meatballs. Winter. Alexander Skarsgard. What you might not think of is perfume. But I’m going to change your mind about that, thanks to Agonist Parfums.

Agonist 50ml Spray Group

Last month, I spent some time with Niclas Lydeen, one half of the Swedish team who created Agonist. Niclas is a graphic designer, and his wife, Christine, who studied in Paris and has a background in fashion, founded the brand. Sweden does not have a history in the perfume business, so they drew inspiration from their home to create this unique line of unisex fragrances.

Agonist Parfums Isis SculptureIn fashion, the top brands will create an haute couture line and a prêt-à-porter line. Haute couture is the “high fashion” line comprising exclusive items that are often custom-made. Prêt-à-porter is “ready-to-wear”, comprising clothes that are factory-made and finished for general consumption. Agonist’s line of 10 fragrances are structured the same way. Each fragrance is available in a limited edition, haute couture bottle, handcrafted by legendary Swedish glassmakers Kosta Boda. These sculptural bottles are truly works of art. And for the masses, you can purchase the beautiful, prêt-à-porter crystal bottle that is more accessibly-priced.

With Agonist, Niclas shared, “the scent is the hero”, so each limited edition bottle is inspired by the perfume it contains. For example, the Isis bottle suggests the start of spring. The bottle (left) is yellow, evocative of the sun or a bud emerging from the ice in Sweden. The scent is green and fresh.

Agonist Parfums No 10 White Oud bottleOne of my favorites that I smelled that day was Agonist’s first fragrance, The Infidels. The theme of this fragrance was inspired by Swedish poet Karin Boye. The Infidels smells of roses but has a warm feeling thanks to Lebanese Cedarwood and Bourbon Vanilla. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

All fragrances in the Agonist line are unisex. Niclas and Christine start first with the idea for the fragrance; masculine or feminine does not matter. They work with five different perfumers who specialize in specific fragrance families. Each fragrance has a unique combination of ingredients, all of which you see plainly listed on the label of the prêt-à-porter bottle.

Their most recent creation, No 10 White Oud, is a bold attempt to recreate a trendy ingredient in the world of fragrance. Oud is a resin produced when a specific Asian tree is infected with a mold. It’s distinctive, extremely rare, and very expensive. In No 10 White Oud, Agonist has made a Nordic interpretation of this musky scent. In the sculptural bottle shown above, you can see how the bottle containing the perfume mimics a resin emerging from the wood-looking bottom block of glass.

Niclas was very generous with his time, and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn about this line. If you’re looking for a complex, unique fragrance, Agonist Parfums is worth a smell. You can explore their fragrances at select Neiman Marcus locations, including Houston, Dallas, and Washington.

Jenn with Agonist Parfums founder Niclas Lydeen

Niclas Lydeen of Agonist Parfums

Images: bottles of perfume – courtesy of Agonist Parfums


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InStyle’s 2015 Best Beauty(pendence) Buys http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/05/06/instyles-2015-best-beautypendence-buys/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/05/06/instyles-2015-best-beautypendence-buys/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 03:34:21 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4176 InStyle 2015 Best Beauty Buys

It’s May, and that can only mean one thing in the beauty world. It’s time for InStyle magazine’s annual Best Beauty Buys issue! As in past years, many products in this year’s issue are ones I’ve discussed on the blog or currently use. Here’s a rundown of some of my favorites. 


Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer – I needed a new primer for gala season this spring, and I had read good reviews on this one. Even better, Sephora sells a travel size version — perfect for me, since primer is not a product I’ll use every day. Expect a post forthcoming on the blog about this one.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – I’ve recently returned to wearing foundation every day, and there was only one option for me. Twelve years straight on the Best Beauty Buys list. No argument here.

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Longwear Luminous EyeshadowChanel Illusion d’Ombre Longwear Luminous Eyeshadow – Thanks to a long layover in the Narita airport last summer, I bought a pot of this eyeshadow in New Moon. At first, I thought it was too glittery for everyday wear, but as it turns out, it’s my go-to for a quick makeup look. Silky finish, buildable pigmentation, and no slippage.

Urban Decay EyeShadow Primer Potion – And before I apply any eyeshadow, a thin layer of this product goes on first. Easy to use and apply, and most importantly, it works!

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler – I’ll confess that I don’t curl my eyelashes often enough. But, any card-carrying beauty addict owns this tool, and you better believe I do.

Benefit Benetint – I keep a bottle of this in my office desk. It’s the perfect emergency make-up solution. Dab and blend a little on your cheeks. Dab and blend a little on your lips. Versatility in a bottle.

Chanel Glossimer – Take a look in my purse make-up kit, and you’ll see that I carry two shades of this Chanel lip gloss, Pagoda and Nakkar. Soft color, never sticky, glossy shine.


CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – Every night, I wash my face with this cleanser. It gets the job down without stripping moisture from your skin. It’s ideal for those with sensitive, dry skin, like me.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair – Classics don’t go out of style. In my opinion, this is still the best nighttime serum out there. This serum goes on my face every night before I moisturize.


Jenn's nighttime regimen: Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, Mary Kay Oil-Free Makeup Remover, Naturopathica Oat Facial Polish, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Hard Night Good Morning Daytime Moisturizer


Dove White Beauty Bar – I like to keep it simple where I can. You’ll find a stash of these bars under my bathroom sink.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream – My favorite hand cream for years. It’s creamy and nourishing to your skin without being at all greasy. Spring for the big tube and keep it on your nightstand. Your hands and manicure will thank you.


L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin – Thanks to my new(ish) job with frequent black-tie events, I’ve put my hair up-doing skills back to use. I have two secret weapons — lots of bobby pins and lots of this hairspray. Don’t be shy; be heavy-handed. It’s Texas, after all.

Which of your beauty product favorites made this year’s InStyle Best Beauty Buys list? Share your picks in the comments!

Images: InStyle’s 2015 Best Beauty Buys, Chanel eyeshadow – author’s own, Nighttime regimen – author’s own

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Spring 2015: Makeup in the Nudes (Step-by-step) http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/04/04/spring-2015-makeup-in-the-nudes-step-by-step/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/04/04/spring-2015-makeup-in-the-nudes-step-by-step/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 00:29:48 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4163 I’m working on a new “What’s New in Foundation” post, and while I was trying on my first sample, I thought, why not share with you a step-by-step makeup look for the spring. Coincidentally, all the major shades are named some version of “nude”, a great fresh palette for this transitional weather period. So that you can really see the effect of each product, I’ve broken down each step. For a simpler application, pick out the steps you find most essential.

jenn's step-by-step spring 2015 makeup look

START: First, I follow my morning skin regimen, and this is how I look fresh-faced with sunscreen. (SIDE RANT: Please don’t be fooled by media sources that describe some model or actress in a photo as “make-up free”. Odds are, that celebrity is wearing makeup.)

STEP 1: Here I’ve applied foundation, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Foundation. This isn’t my usual, but in general, foundation will even out your skin tone. This particular formula is very light with a powdery finish (more on this in a future post.) I used a foundation paddle brush, and then I finished with a makeup sponge to smooth it out.

STEP 2: Next, I applied Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer in Nude underneath my eyes. I apply directly with the brush and blend with my fingertips. This concealer lightens those dark circles and makes me look more bright-eyed. And then to finish prepping the eyes, I use my trusty Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original, also applied with my fingertips. Comparing Steps 1 & 2, you can see the impact of concealer. For me, foundation is optional, but concealer is not.

jenn's step by step spring 2015 makeup look

STEP 3: EYEBROWS ARE IMPORTANT. Seriously, they make your face. Whenever I get my makeup done by an artist at the store, I always feel let down when it comes to my brows. As you can see from the earlier photos, my brows are kind of short. Perhaps it’s my affinity for young Elizabeth Taylor’s look, but I favor a bolder brow. Here, I use a combination of the darkest eyeshadows from my Maybelline Nudes Palette with an angled brush.

For blush, I prefer cream. It applies seamlessly and provides a naturally flushed look. However, a liquid cream formula is getting harder and harder to find. Lucky for me, e.l.f. makes an HD Blush that costs only $3! This shade is Headliner, a soft pink shade. I’ve blended a squirt with my foundation and applied with my fingertips to the fullest parts of my cheeks (only because I keep forgetting to replace my flat-topped brush that broke.)

STEP 4: Next up are the eyes. I’ve used three shades, a light, mid, and dark tone, from that same Maybelline Nudes Palette. I used two brushes, making sure to blend thoroughly. For more detailed instructions, see my earlier how-to post on eyeshadow application.

STEP 5: I broke up Steps 4 & 5 so you can see the difference that eyeliner makes. Here I’ve applied another favorite of mine, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, in Demolition, a dark brown. I line the outer part of my upper lid, and the inner parts of both my upper and lower lids. You can certainly skip Step 5, but eyeliner makes your eye shape more defined.

jenn's step by step spring 2015 makeup look


STEP 6: Now that all the color is applied (except for lips), I dust Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil Finishing Powder from forehead to chin, cheek to cheek, with a big, fluffy brush to polish and seal the look. Then I brush e.l.f. Lash and Brow Mascara on my eyebrows to keep them in place. Next up is mascara, I’m still using Dior Diorshow, but I’ve switched from Iconic to Black Out. It’s legendary for creating heavy, thick, jet black lashes. Last are lips, and I’ve applied Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick in Intense Nude, straight from the tube.

Voila! A neutral, polished makeup look! If you’re in good practice, this should take less than 15 minutes. A color palette of nude shades is always a classic look and works for the office or on the weekend. Have fun, ladies!

Images: all author’s own



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Local Love: Hubalou Hair Wrap http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/03/30/local-love-hubalou-hair-wrap/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/03/30/local-love-hubalou-hair-wrap/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:13:10 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4149 Hubalou hair wrap in slate, in tubeHow many of you get out of the shower and immediately wrap your hair up in a regular, old towel? I’ve found something better for you — Hubalou wraps.

Hubalou was founded by Sarah Masciana and is based in Austin, TX. Per her stylist’s recommendation, Sarah began to wrap her wet hair in cotton t-shirts. Terry cloth towels, or even microfiber towels, can act like velcro to textured hair and separate curls and make your hair frizzy. Looking for something more sophisticated than an old t-shirt, Sarah created Hubalou wraps made of bamboo fiber. To me, the fabric feels like modal. It’s lightweight, ultra flexible, and soft. Except, of course, bamboo is a natural fiber.

Sarah was kind enough to send me a wrap to try out for myself. It comes in an attractively packaged plastic tube with an instruction card. There are several color  and print options, and they start at $24 each. My wrap is the slate color.

Hubalou hair wrap with instruction card

I have to admit, at first, I wasn’t sure how much I would use a hair wrap. My hair is only slightly wavy these days, so after washing, I’ll often diffuse it with a hair dryer while it’s still pretty sopping wet to achieve a piecier, wavier look. But, I can also be really lazy in the mornings.

Lately, on the days that I wash my hair, I’ll towel dry, apply styling creme, comb through, then wrap my hair in my Hubalou. However, I’ll follow the “sleeping” hair wrap instructions instead of the “drying” instructions, wrapping my head right side up. Then I’ll go about getting ready as normal. Just before I’m ready to leave, I’ll take off the wrap, spritz and scrunch my hair with some sea salt spray, and walk out the door. By the time I’ve arrived at the office, my hair is nearly dry. It’s almost wash and go, and for morning-haters like me, I’m grateful for the time saver.

Hubalou is a great find for any woman who doesn’t want to fuss with her hair, but I think it’ll especially be a gem for my curly-haired friends. You can buy yours online, direct from the website or from Amazon (free shipping with Prime!).

Jenn wearing a Hubalou hair wrap

On those rare lazy weekends, I’ll sit around the house in my cozy robe with my Hubalou wrap and pretend I’m at the spa.

Images: all author’s own

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You Smell Perfectly Marvelous! Introducing Diana Vreeland Parfums http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/02/07/you-smell-perfectly-marvelous-introducing-diana-vreeland-parfums/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/02/07/you-smell-perfectly-marvelous-introducing-diana-vreeland-parfums/#comments Sun, 08 Feb 2015 04:21:31 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4118 bottles of Diana Vreeland fragrance: Absolutely Vital, Extravagance Russe, Perfectly Marvelous, Simply Divine, Outrageously Vibrant

My new friends at Neiman Marcus in the Galleria here in Houston invited me to an intimate lunch celebrating the launch of the Diana Vreeland Parfums line. What made the lunch extra special (in addition to a certain high-profile Houston socialite sitting across the table from me) was that the creator of the line, Alexander Vreeland, grandson of Diana, was in attendance.

Diana Vreeland / Image by George Hoyningen-Heune

Diana Vreeland / Image by George Hoyningen-Heune

First, a primer on Diana Vreeland. Quite simply, she’s a fashion legend. Vreeland started as a columnist at Harper’s Bazaar and eventually became editor. Later, she was editor-in-chief at Vogue and a consultant for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you want to learn more about this extraordinary woman, I highly recommend watching the 2012 documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel directed by Lisa Vreeland, wife of Alexander.

Five years ago, Alexander Vreeland took over his grandmother’s estate. With 30 years in the fashion industry, Alexander is well-equipped to handle this big job. Alexander said that his grandmother would always say, “Take your time and do it well.” This line of fragrances exemplifies a high level of craftsmanship for which is grandmother would most certainly approve. For now, these fragrances are sold exclusively at 11 Neiman Marcus stores. The colored crystal bottles are works of art, made by Brosse, the same glass makers of the Chanel No. 5 bottles. Now let’s talk about the scents.

Each perfume has a name inspired by Diana-isms and uses the finest ingredients. After trying all five scents, I can attest that they are each unique and intriguing.

Perfectly Marvelousjasmine, sandalwood, musk – This fragrance is perfect for those who gravitate toward oriental scents. Perfectly Marvelous is what my 24-year old self would have wanted to wear.
Extravagance Russevanilla, bourbon, musk – Diana loved the ballet and had a fascination with Russia, hence the name of this fragrance. To me, this is the most unusual of the five scents  — heavy and warm, something I’d want to wear in the winter — and suitable for both women and men.
Simply Divinetuberose, nutmeg – As a foil to Extravagance Russe, I find this to be the most feminine scent of the line. Very fresh, floral, and dainty.
Outrageously Vibrantcassis, patchouli, rose – A well-balanced fragrance, classic in nature. Sweet, yet bold.
Absolutely VitalIndian sandalwood, Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine – Absolutely Vital is my absolute favorite. The rose counterbalances the sandalwood perfectly and has a woody tone that I like in a fragrance.

I had the opportunity to ask Alexander his thoughts on selecting a signature fragrance. He said that American taste is growing more sophisticated. (Read this book for evidence.) People are beginning to collect fragrances and now women like to mix their own scents. In my younger years, I would only own one fragrance at a time, but now I do like options. Each day, I choose what fragrance to wear depending on the weather, the season, my mood, and what I’m wearing. Scent is perhaps the most personal of accessories. If you’re ready to build some luxury into your fragrance wardrobe, then you must try Diana Vreeland. They really are Simply Divine!

jenn with Alexander Vreeland

With Alexander Vreeland!


Images: fragrances; Diana Vreeland / Image by George Hoyningen-Heune;  with Alexander Vreeland – author’s own

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Golden Globes 2015 Recap http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/01/19/golden-globes-2015-recap/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2015/01/19/golden-globes-2015-recap/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 04:49:03 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4104 Thanks to my alma mater playing in the first ever College Football Playoffs National Championship game, I actually missed watching the live coverage of this year’s Golden Globes. After experiencing a disappointing loss by my beloved Oregon Ducks, it took several days to get over my sadness. Alas, the fashion coverage must go on! Time to get down to red carpet business. I’ve reviewed all the scouting reports and game tape and am now ready to share my red carpet review.


I don’t even really know what that phrase means, but it feels appropriate. You had to know that this dress was going to make my list this year. I gasped when I saw Kate Hudson in this Versace gown. First, her body is RIDICULOUS. I don’t know that a better tailored dress has ever walked any red carpet. With such a bold gown, she smartly wore her hair in a sleek bun with simple makeup. Forevermark diamond jewelry didn’t try to compete with Kate’s knockout dress. Everything about this look screams sexy, yet elegant. A perfect 10.

2015 Golden Globes, Kate Hudson in Versace

BEST OF THE SILVER: Dakota Johnson

One of the trends of the night was silver, and this high-wattage Chanel Haute Couture gown was my favorite. That skirt could compete with any disco ball, and I love it. Just look at how the light dances off the sequins of her dress onto her forearms. So fab. And like Kate Hudson’s gown, the fit of this dress on Dakota Johnson was perfect. The bodice flatters her petite frame, with a feminine flower detail right at her subtle décolletage. The front slit is not too high to cause a near catastrophe, showing off a sexy, minimalist silver shoe. Plus, I love how the sequins drip over the opening. Her makeup and hair is soft, a nice foil to Dakota’s hard metal gown.

2015 Golden Globes, Dakota Johnson in Chanel Couture


Emily Blunt looked very pretty and classic in her white Michael Kors gown. But what really caught my eye was her Lorraine Schwartz jewelry. The actress wore diamond and tourmaline floral earrings and a matching bracelet. The turquoise color is spectacular with this white dress. It reminds me of one of my favorite Golden Globes looks ever, when Eva Mendes wore a white Dior gown with an eyecatching Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise collar necklace. This color combination wins again at the Globes.

2015 Golden Globes, Emily Blunt in Lorraine Schwartz jewelry

BEST COUPLE: Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch

The Golden Globes was the first red carpet appearance for this expecting, soon-to-be betrothed pair. I’m a total Benedict Cumberbatch fan, and he looked predictably dashing in a classic peaked-lapel black tuxedo. Bonus for Benny being perfectly coiffed and clean-shaven. And then there’s his preggers fiancée, theatre director, Sophie Hunter. She’s wearing a navy Erdem gown with a red, blue, and silver floral pattern. Her makeup is beautiful — luminous cheeks and a cranberry lip — paired with a romantic updo. What a lovely pair.

2015 Golden Globes, Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch


Remember last year, when Emma Watson wore that Christian Dior red dress over the cropped black trousers to last year’s Globes? Yea, it didn’t work for me. This Emma, however, nails pants at the Globes in this Lanvin number. What Ms. Stone did right was bring the glamour with a sparkly, intricately beaded corset, tied off with the dramatic, draping, floor-length bow, and those super sexy stiletto pumps. Emma’s dramatic eye makeup and berry lip are flawless. And I loved her hair so much that I told my stylist this weekend, “Can you cut my hair like Emma Stone’s at the Globes?” She rocks this look with so much confidence — a total bad ass.

2015 Golden Globes, Emma Stone in Lanvin


I’m a sucker for a ball gown, and this one wins the night. It’s rare to see a ball gown done in a new way, and I feel like this is so fresh. The fit is incredible, with the nip at the waist and the pleating in the bust. The gown is architecturally divine. And don’t even get me started on this color. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I had a gown made in this color, because I love it so much. Felicity’s porcelain skin looks gorgeous against this teal shade. Her 1960’s inspired updo pairs well with the high neckline and cut of the sleeves. Black-winged eyeliner and a coral lip seal the deal. Bravo Felicity!

2015 Golden Globes, Felicity Jones in Dior

The Golden Globes were a promising start to this awards season. Looking forward to more red carpet fabulousness!

Images: Kate Hudson, Dakota JohnsonEmily Blunt, Sophie Hunter and Benedict CumberbatchEmma Stone, Felicity Jones


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A Night at the Opera: Black-Tie Romantic http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/12/04/a-night-at-the-opera/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/12/04/a-night-at-the-opera/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 04:31:03 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4074 I’m lucky to have a job I love that also allows for many opportunities to get gussied up. And I’m extra fortunate to be related to some really talented people. One such person is my niece, an up-and-coming designer in the Philippines, Aisha Romero. She made a beautiful ball gown skirt for me, and I knew just the perfect occasion to wear it — opening night at the opera. The question was, how do I put it all together?

detail of fabric from Aisha Romero Designs ballgown skirt

The skirt my niece made me is of a heavy, impressionistic, flower-patterned fabric. Both the colors and pattern have a romantic feel, not to mention the inherent femininity of a full, ball gown skirt with a defined, banded waistline. The opera opened Halloween night, and the weather had begun to cool down in Houston. Digging around in my closet, I found a dusty rose sweater from the Gap with a nice shimmer to it, perfect for an evening look. This sweater that I’ve owned for years perfectly complemented my new skirt.

accessories for a night at the opera -- forever 21 headband, banana republic crystal collar necklace, bcbg gold strappy sandals

But a simple sweater and fancy skirt do not a black-tie outfit make! Nothing dresses up a look more than the right accessories, head to toe. I already knew I had the right shoes. Never mind that I was wearing a floor-length skirt. You still have to have a fabulous shoe underneath all that, and these BCBG gold strappy sandals fit the bill.

Rimmel London lasting finish lipstick in bordeauxNext, I wanted something eye-catching around my neckline. I dropped by Banana Republic, knowing that they’ve been featuring a lot of bold, crystal jewelry lately. I picked up this crystal collar necklace that is high voltage on the sparkle. Not only is this necklace great for this outfit, but it’ll be the perfect go-to accessory for many fancy night-out ensembles.

I still felt like I needed a little something more. Perhaps a hair accessory? So the day of the opera, I went to Forever 21 on my lunch break, because it’s the only clothing store within walking distance of my office. Lo and behold, I found a headband with stones colored to match my skirt. Best of all, it cost less than $4. This would work just fine.

With my outfit put together, I made a plan for my makeup. The romantic color palette and sparkles gave me a vintage inspiration. I went with a smoky grey eye, soft glowing complexion with a bordeaux lip. Want to know the trick to maintaining a deep-colored lip all night long? First line your lips with a similar shade, filling in your lips with the liner. Then apply a coat of your lipstick. Lightly blot with a tissue, and then dust a loose powder over your lips. Apply another coat of lipstick. Voila!

jenn at a night at the opera

I received a lot of compliments that evening. While I love an edgy, fashion-forward, slinky look for evening, it was fun to look soft, girly, and romantic. What’s your favorite formal look?


Images: Forever 21 headband, Banana Republic necklace, BCBG sandals, all other photos – author’s own



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I Love the Nightlife: Disco Fabulous Look http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/07/27/i-love-the-nightlife-disco-fabulous-look/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/07/27/i-love-the-nightlife-disco-fabulous-look/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 04:11:10 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4033 I LOVE DISCO. I have fond memories of dancing to records by Donna Summer and the Bee Gees in our living room. And who doesn’t love that disco look? All the gold and sequins, the rainbow makeup palettes, and the sexy hair. On a few occasions, I’ve gone to disco-themed events, and you know what? Disco makeup is HARD. Seamlessly blending such incongruous colors takes a lot of patience and meticulousness. However, I love the challenge, and I love the end result.

Jenn with a disco makeup look

Anytime I’m doing an elaborate makeup look, I start by gathering inspiration on Pinterest. Upon deciding on a final look, I comb through my makeup supplies to see if I need to make any new purchases. Quintessential disco eyeshadow colors are blues, purples, pinks in frosty shades. Cheekbones are emphasized in an angular fashion. Lips are definitely shiny.

To start, as I do with any complicated makeup application, I moisturized my face. I was preparing for a disco party; obviously, there would be dancing and, hence, sweating, so I opted for a primer underneath my foundation. Concealer under my eyes and eyeshadow primer on my lids complete the blank canvas to start painting all the colors.

vanity aftermatch of disco makeup

The workbench: lots of brushes, Pinned look on the iPad, q-tips for touching up, small water dish for wet shadow application

For my eyes, I used a golden-metallic violet, matte purple, silver, metallic turquoise, and navy eyeshadows. First, I applied all three metallic shades in color blocks, carefully creating that winged effect on the outer lid. To make the metallics extra metallic looking, I applied the shadows wet by dipping my brush in water first. Next, I used the darker, matte purple and navy from the lashline up to the crease. Once the shades where where I wanted them, I flipped my vanity mirror to the magnified side to blend, blend, and then blend some more. To outline my eyes, I used a black MAC gel liner, then finished my eyes with brow gel and mascara.

Cheeks are an important part of the disco look. I used matte bronzer to create the illusion of hollows in my naturally round cheeks. For the apples of my cheeks, I used a pink cream blush. Then for extra emphasis, I applied a shimmery pink highlighter just above my cheekbones. That’s what makes the light bounce off the top of my cheeks in all the photos. I set all the color with a loose finishing powder. Finally, for lips, I first applied a matte, cherry red lipstick, then topped it all off with a red lip gloss.

collage of Jenn's disco makeup


After finishing with makeup, I looked at myself and thought, “wow, this looks really loud.” But once I put on the platinum blonde wig, it didn’t look that crazy after all. It kinda pulls the whole look together, don’t you think? And truthfully, I love this look! I mean, I’m not going to show up to work looking like this, but I do think it’s one of my great makeup achievements. You’ve gotta give it up to the women of the late ’70s and ’80s who did this look on a regular basis. It takes stamina.

Once I was home (btw, all the photos above were taken post-disco party), it felt great to take off the wig and all the makeup. I followed my usual nighttime skin regimen, with a little extra oomph and eye makeup remover to wash off all the colors. And for that extra clean feeling, I did a light scrub before applying serum, moisturizer, and eye cream. Before I went to bed, I looked like this:

Jenn with clean, fresh face after disco makeup

… proving that there is nothing natural looking about disco. But that’s what makes it so fun and fabulous!

Images: all author’s own

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Indulgence Abroad: Spa Delmar at Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/07/21/indulgence-abroad-spa-delmar-at-movenpick-hotel-mactan-island-cebu/ http://www.beautypendence.com/2014/07/21/indulgence-abroad-spa-delmar-at-movenpick-hotel-mactan-island-cebu/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:34:30 +0000 http://www.beautypendence.com/?p=4013 lobby of the Movenpick Hotel

Talk about WOW factor – the Mövenpick Hotel lobby certainly makes an impression

I spent most of June in the Philippines visiting my family. It was pretty special — I traveled to new cities, ate way too much, and saw family members I hadn’t seen in decades. During my trip to Cebu, I was completely spoiled with an overnight stay at Mövenpick Hotel on Mactan Island. A beautiful beachfront hotel, this Swiss hotel has created a fresh, contemporary, stylish retreat.

entrance of Spa Delmar at the Movenpick Hotel in CebuAs we checked into our room, I noticed that the hotel spa offered a 30% discount on any services booked between 10am and 3pm. Hmm, I think that’s worth a look. I took a break from beach lounging with my cousin to walk over to the spa and check out the menu.

The friendly receptionist at Spa Delmar walked me through the menu. I explained that I definitely wanted a massage, but I also like body scrubs. She sold me on the Vitality Package — a two-hour treatment that includes a body scrub and massage for P4,500. After the discount, that equates to about $72. Sign me up! I love the Philippines!

Indulgence room at Spa Delmar at Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island in Cebu PhilippinesThe next morning, my cousin and I enjoyed a yummy breakfast buffet at the hotel. (Having now traveled to Vietnam and the Philippines, I can confirm that continental breakfasts included at U.S. hotels ain’t got nothing on Asian hotel breakfasts!) I walked over to the spa, excited for my 10am appointment.

After filling out my intake forms, I was instructed to choose one of three fragrance options. I went with “romantic”. My massage therapist Jenalyn walked me outside to my private therapy room. The word “INDULGENCE” was on the door — a great start to the session.

Without a doubt, this was the most spacious treatment room I’ve ever been in at any spa. There were two massage tables set — one for the body scrub, one for the massage, a private bathroom, a private shower, then a private patio outside with a jacuzzi and rainshower. More on that later.

outdoor jacuzzi at Spa Delmar at Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island in Cebu Philippines outdoor rainshower at Spa Delmar in Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island in Cebu PhilippinesAfter changing into my comfy robe, Jenalyn returned and had me start face down for the scrub. She was thorough with deliberate movements, and the scrub mixture smelled delightfully “romantic”. Once my skin was scrubbed to a glow, Jenalyn sent me outside to the already prepped jacuzzi filled with bubbles and surrounded by orchids. She returned with a tray of fresh fruit — pineapple, grapes, mango, and watermelon — and soothing ginger tea. I really enjoyed my quiet time out in the elements — but in private. I clearly remember saying to myself, “My life is so awesome right now.”

Thirty minutes later, Jenalyn instructed me to hop out of the jacuzzi and shower. I stood outside in the beautifully glass-tiled rainshower and rinsed off. Time to go back inside for the final course the massage. As fabulous as everything had been leading up, the massage was definitely the big-finish dessert of my delicious spa meal.

With massage oil, Jenalyn used acupressure on my numerous knots. More often than knot (pun intended), that type of body work hurts me, but she was able to do it in a not painful way. Before proceeding to the facial and scalp massage, she washed her hands, which I appreciated. The intake form asked if it was okay for my therapist to use oil on my face, and I had checked “no”.

Upon completion of the massage, Jenalyn used a hot towel to wipe off the massage oil so I wouldn’t be a big slippery mess. Finally, since your body can be a bit sluggish after laying on a massage table for an hour, she did a few exercises to wake my muscles and joints up before I sat up.

Indulgence private treatment room at Spa Delmar, Movenpick Hotel on Mactan Island, Cebu, PhilippinesWhen I met up with my cousins afterward, I must have looked like the most relaxed, happiest woman in the world. Of all the spas I’ve ever been to, hands down, Spa Delmar was the best ever! The spa suite was so over-the-top luxurious, and my therapist was skilled and never rushed through my treatments. My family said that next time I visit Cebu we’ll stay at one of the other beautiful resorts on the island. That’s great and all, but I’m setting aside a day to return to Spa Delmar for some top-shelf indulgence.


Images: all author’s own


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