What Do Beauty Bloggers Spend Their Own Money On?


Have you ever gotten the chance to look inside the cabinet of a beauty blogger?

It is INSANITY. I host two beauty-focused shows for Allure so I test out a lot of products to see what I want to incorporate into segments (and reviews on RG)…but for-real beauty bloggers? Literally have boxes and boxes and boxes full of review samples filling their bathroom cabinets from companies hoping that a product will catch their eye. And they spend virtually every day sifting through products in search of the best of the best…so for them to actually walk into a store and buy a beauty product for their own personal use, it must be CRAZY good.

So for this post, I thought I’d do something kind of different and ask a few top beauty bloggers (and friends of mine) what products they love so much that they never fail to make room for them in those already-overstuffed bathroom cabinet.


Nadine Jolie is an author (check out her books here), travel, beauty, and royalty blogger, and self-described “professional oversharer.” She’s also one of my best friends, and is brutally honest – I trust her beauty recommendations more than anyone else on the planet’s.

Here are her picks, in her own words:

  • Amala products (specifically the Brightening Emulsion): I discovered this organic line on a press trip to Germany to visit their headquarters. They are NOT cheap, but their products are effective, organic, made with love, and just divine.
  • Kiehl’s Bath and Shower Musk Gel: My husband and I are addicted!
  • Lucas Papaw Ointment: Best lip balm on the planet. I discovered it in Australia on my honeymoon and now order it online in bulk.
  • Tom Ford Black Orchid Perfume: Sex in a bottle.
  • Givenchy Pi Cologne: I discovered this spicy, soapy men’s fragrance nearly 15 years ago and have been loving (and buying!) it ever since. Whenever I’m flying internationally, I check duty free to see if they have it.
  • BareMinerals Original SPF: I can’t survive without this. Usually I’ll have one extra in stock from the company’s PR, but if not, I always purchase immediately and happily!
jeannine morris

Jeannine Morris is an on-air beauty expert who has appeared on E!, the Today Show, and Wendy Williams. I’ve known her practically since I got started in this whole blogging thing (we appeared together in a BetterTV series way back in the day), and her take on beauty is refreshingly straightforward and open.

Jeannine’s best of the best:

  • Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash: I’ve been pretty much exclusively using Dove since I was a child and this body wash lathers so richly and does its job while moisturizing my skin. I’m obsessed.
  • John Frieda Color Refreshing Gloss in Cool Brunette: To keep my hair from getting brassy between colors, I use this once a week. It’s an in-shower treatment that deposits color in my shade and tone and keeps my hue looking fresh and shiny.
  • MAC Fast Response Eye Cream: This is a lifesaver for early call times and TV segments, because it instantly reduces puffiness under my eyes.

Amber Katz is the founder and writer behind Rouge18, and a contributor to Teen Vogue, Elle.com, Daily Glow, and Refinery29. Her site was named one of the ten hottest beauty blogs by Women’s Wear Daily, and has been featured in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Vogue, and Glamour. Amber’s also one of my favorite people to run into out and about in the city, mostly because she’s just so damn fun. 

What Amber never lets herself run out of (and why):

  • Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream: I got a mini sample of this and am having MASSIVE separation anxiety that I can see the bottom of my little jar, and am preparing to buy my own moisturizer for the first time in the better part of a decade to replace it. It makes my skin looked rested even when it’s patently not and includes SPF 15. In short, the name is NOT hyperbole.
  • Pureology Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner: I’ve bought this multiple times. The sulfate-free shampoo cleans my color-treated hair without stripping it of moisture or my painstakingly balayaged strands (thank you, Dana Ionato at Sally Hershberger!) and the conditioner yields a “minty on my head” refreshing feeling while it imparts moisture. I sometimes score this stuff at Nordstrom Rack at Union Square and feel very virtuous for saving a few bucks on it.
  • Kate Somerville 360 Body Tanning Towelettes: Though I live in a constant episode of “Sephoarders” (beauty product-specific hoarders), sometimes people will give me gift certificates for the store and I’m grateful because I can’t ever run out of Kate Somerville’s self-tanning wipes. They don’t leave me streaky or smelling like Scrooge McDuck post coin-swim, nor will they clog my pores when I use them on my face.

nars eyeshadow palette

And, finally – not putting myself in the same league as these ladies (who are for-real beauty experts as opposed to fairly well-informed dabblers, which is the category I consider myself a part of), but just for fun: here are a few of my own must-have beauty products that get purchased the moment they begin to run low (thank you, Amazon Prime):

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation: This is the one makeup product I literally do not leave the house without. Ever. I’ve been using it for a good decade now, and it perfects your skin instantly: covering blemishes, evening out tone, and cutting shine. Total must-have.

Sephora Liquid Eyeliner in Black: I’m a total liquid liner addict, and this one is just about perfect: precise tip, smooth application, long-lasting formula. Oh, and it’s cheap (ish).

African Botanics Marula Oil: I cannot tell you how obsessed I am with this oil: I use it whenever my skin is feeling in need of a little extra TLC, and wake up the next morning virtually glowing.

Dove Nourishing Oil Care Spray Detangler: I worked with Dove as their brand ambassador for a couple of years and love pretty much all their products, but my hands-down favorite is the spray detangled. I buy it religiously, and never brush my wet hair without spraying it first: it leaves my hair soft, shiny, and so easy to comb through (and can even be used on dry hair if it’s all snarly).

Now tell me, please: what can’t you live without?! 

Easiest-Ever Black, White & Green Holiday Tablescape

succulent centerpiece

I like a pretty tablescape as much as the next fancy-pants, but what I do not like is buying items that I will use exactly one week out of every year. This holiday season, I’m going for a Christmassy table setting comprised entirely of items that I either already own or have plucked from my very own backyard, making it both completely practical and completely free, whee.

Black, White & Green Holiday Tablescape

1. Pull every single white, black and gold piece of china you own out of your cupboards, and layer ‘em up. If you’ve got any Jadeite or other green serving pieces, throw a couple of those on there, too.

2. Green accents make a graphic black, white and gold tablescape feel festive and wintry, so use those succulents that you already have sitting around your house to add a subtle splash of forest-y color.

3. Finally, fancy up your place settings with a couple of branches of pine from your yard tucked into each napkin ring. Maybe throw a pine cone or two on there, just for fun.

Tip: If you gather up some pine cones and want to use them as decor, first bake them at 250 degrees F for 30 minutes to remove any critters. Then you can either paint the tips white for a snowy effect, or spray-paint them white for a frosted look (like the pine cones pictured here). Pretty pretty.

pine place setting

Again and Again

When I was expecting Goldie, I wrote and wrote and wrote about my fear of losing all those special times I had with Indy; those days when it was just us two, wandering around and stopping into diners for pancakes, paging through books in bookstores…being not just mother and son, but friends. Like, best friends. That’s one thing that surprised me about becoming a parent, you know: the fact that your children aren’t just your “kids”; they’re people you love hanging out with, who are funny and smart and interesting and make everything you do together more exciting, because you get to see what it’s like to do it (whatever “it” is) for the first time ever.

I was scared I’d lose that in the madness of a new baby’s arrival; that he’d feel pushed aside, or forgotten somehow. And so it’s something that Kendrick and I have spent a lot of time talking about, and we’ve worked very hard to make sure that I get time once in awhile to go somewhere on my own with Indy.

Yesterday I told my son that I was taking him on a special adventure. “Is Daddy coming?” he asked. “No,” I said, “It’s just you and me today.” And instead of being sad that Kendrick wasn’t coming along – which was what I expected – he literally flung himself into my arms and said “Let’s go NOW!”

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So we went on a train to the city (big hit), walked past Rockefeller Center to see the tree and the decorations (bigger hit), and then finished up with the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (obviously the biggest hit; we have been recounting the show in minute detail ever since). And then afterwards I explained to him that the very best part of a trip into New York is that you get to eat Two Boots pizza from Grand Central on the train ride back home, and so we got pizza and curled up together on a seat and talked about our adventures.

I mean, that’s a pretty huge day for a kid: seeing the Rockettes and Santa Claus and “the biggest tree in the world.” I have those kinds of memories from when I was his age – they’re indistinct, more sense-memories than anything else – but I could see the wonder of those lights and sounds and crowds of people imprinting themselves on his brain. I know he’ll remember going to the city and seeing the Christmas show with his mom.

hanukkah candle

And then we went home, and lit candles and sung Hanukkah songs together, and it wasn’t a huge, exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experience like seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, but there it was on his face again: the wonder. At the biggest tree in the world; at a candle lit in a dark house. The grandness of the event didn’t matter; what mattered was that I was there. 

It’s such an awesome thing to realize: how much your kids just want you to be there. Really see them.

So we sat on the couch together while the candles burned down, and I told him to watch very carefully, because the moment that a Hanukkah candle goes out is a special one. We watched, and watched, and finally the flame went out in a little burst of smoke, and it was time for bed, and when the lights were out and we were laying together looking at the stars on his ceiling he said, “Tell me what we do today?” and then told me himself, detailing every single moment, from the train to the Santa Clauses to the candle, each part as big as the other.

And when he was done recounting the story of our day:

“Let’s do it AGAIN.”

Spotlight On: Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz

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Meet one of my favorite jewelry lines of all time. Ben-Amun is like what a 1920s-era princess who decides to go wild for a few days, in like, Ibiza would wear: big stones, crazy detailing, oversized silhouettes…but still elegant, somehow. And the best part is that it’s technically “costume” jewelry (even though it doesn’t look like it), so it’s much more affordable than it looks.


OK, so I kind of freaked out about what happened in this photo. (In a good way.) That man up there is Isaac Manevitz – the designer of Ben-Amun jewelry – and a few weeks ago, at a brunch in the city, I met him…and completely fangirl-ed out, both because of his work and because he and his wife are the loveliest people ever, and basically babysat Goldie the entire time we were there.

And then – and then! This is so cool. They had me sit down and work with Isaac on a custom piece (let’s use the term “work” loosely; the sum total of my contribution was to say “ooh, I like those colors”…because when you’re next to a spectacularly talented jewelry designer, my feeling is you let him go ahead and be spectacularly talented).

Anyway, it was the coolest experience ever. And what a lovely thing, the fact that a designer with such an obvious personal aesthetic would take the time to listen to a fan of his work and actually incorporate her specific preferences into a piece; it just speaks to his focus on making each woman who wears his work feel beautiful in a completely unique way.

Want to see the necklace? It just arrived last night, and I fangirl-ed out all over again.

ben amun necklace

Da daaaa. It’s so over-the-top. I love it.

Some of my favorite Ben-Amun pieces for this winter (including asymmetrical ear cuffs, rainbow earrings, pearls that loop around your neck over and over and over again, and this sort of hand-necklace thing – the third image up there – that has to be tried on to be fully appreciated).

I Just Wanna Dance

little black dress

First: the fact that I am, at the age of 33, once again attending school dances is both super weird and extremely fun.

For Kendrick’s Winter Formal Masquerade I had all these grand plans of floor-length ball gowns (and I do happen to own one – for no apparent reason, as my life does not typically involve outings to places where ball gowns are required) and sculpted waves and…I don’t know, I thought I was really going to go over-the-top fancy, because I never get to go over-the-top fancy and that sounded like it’d be fun.

And then I realized that what’s missing in my life lately is a little partying. Like, old-school put-on-a-sexy-dress-and-high-heels-and-stay-out-late partying. I don’t want to swan around eating canapés; I just wanna dance. And so I decided to dial down the formality and go with a dress that I could move around in, a hairdo that looked messed-up to start with (so a little extra tousling courtesy of a Pitbull song wouldn’t be a big deal), and one hell of a mask.

Oh and? We stayed out until TWO. Which was four hours before the small people in our home woke up and wanted to start their own mini-rave in our living room…but it was so worth it. Date nights FTW.

vivo mask

vivo mask black

christmas party

kendrick strauch

party dress

masquerade dress

On Me: White House Black Market Dress (similar); Vivo Masks Mask; Steve Madden Heels; NARS Heat Wave Lipstick; Swarovski Mini Bella Earrings; Noritake China Champagne Glass.

On Kendrick: Hugo Boss Suit; Vivo Masks Mask.

Some affordable and not-boring-in-the-least LBD options I love for your holiday celebrations consideration:

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