#1 Travel Essential for Your Vacation Packing List

Getaway Glamour: Packable Wide-Brimmed Travel Hats

Seemingly a no-brainer and the #1 travel essential on my vacation packing list, a wide-brimmed hat hides humidity ravaged hair and offers glamorous SPF protection. Rather than running through DTW sporting a snowsuit, fanny pack AND wide-brimmed sun hat in the dead of Winter, or smooshing it and ruining its shape, I usually wait until I arrive at my tropical destination to purchase an inexpensive, easily crumpled hat, which I leave in my hotel upon departure.


I have no idea what our first hotel in Costa Rica will have in the way of sun hats, and couldn’t chance looking like a crocodile hunter when I was hellbent on recreating Sydney Fashion Blogger, Antoinette Marie’s, glamorous tropical style (above), so I searched the deepest corners of the Internet (ok, just Amazon…) and discovered….

PACKABLE, CRUSHABLE wide-brimmed sun hats perfect for travel!


Maybe I’m late, but I didn’t know these existed.

These hats retain their shape during travel, which can be up to two days, come in a variety of styles and colors and can take you from the beach to a romantic dinner.

Skeptical of the quality of these crushable, packable wide-brimmed hats, I ordered a variety of styles and colors from Amazon.

One arrived today and I am so excited with the quality that I had to post a review comparing it to a hat I purchased for twice as much in Greece. I can’t wait to receive my large black 8 inch brimmed hat, so I can slip on a plunging v-neck black swimsuit and channel Antoinette Marie. I purchased a plunging Michael Kor’s similar to Sydney Fashion Bloggers swimsuit, and will include look-alikes in SHOP THE LOOK section below; however, if you can’t live without Marie’s exact swimsuit, it is made by Constantina and Louise.  Next week I will post a comprehensive Travel Essentials: Packing for Beach Vacation.



How To Turn a Clutch into a Designer Fanny Pack

Rather than attempting to the traverse mountain ranges, volcanoes and pothole-scarred roads of Costa Rica during our upcoming trip, we chartered a domestic flight that challenged me to keep my baggage under 30 lbs. Consequently, I’ve been VERY creative when it comes to packing versatile items that can take me from hiking the jungle to repelling down a waterfall.

Lululemon and Da-Nang cargo pants. Pieces by Free People that can be worn as a shirt, dress or swimsuit coverup. Water shoes with tread for hiking. Dry-fit gym clothes galore. Well, under 30 lbs. “galore.” Actually, I really need to weigh what I have packed so far…

Anyway, I felt pretty good about my packing list, until our travel agency sent over its own list of essentials, which included:

A strap-on money holder/pouch for traveling/touring. Handbags with straps are not recommended.

So… a…  fanny pack? I haven’t had one of those since 3rd grade. You’re probably envisioning what immediately came to my mind…




Luckily, thanks music festival attendees’ progressive street style –  think Coachella and Burning Man – modern fanny packs are actually cool and available by almost every high-end designer.


But let’s be real. Anyone who spends $800+ on a FANNY PACK is a moron. Actually, anyone who buys a fanny pack is a moron.

Especially when you can make one for FREE!

Get ready to have your mind BLOWN; creating this perfect travel or music festival accessory is insanely simple!
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Grab your favorite fold-over clutch and a belt.

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Place your personal items in the clutch and then the belt inside the fold.

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Louis Vuitton Fanny Pack

I used a Louis Vuitton Monogram Denim Amelia Clutch I purchased from Bagborroworsteal.com and a white belt.  My clutch has a zippered pocket in the back to allow quick access to my ID and cash.

If you want to get a little more crafty, you can thread your belt through cuts in an old wallet.



What appeared to be a fashion obstacle, inspired a creative way to reuse an old clutch. I’m thrilled with the look of my DIY fanny pack and excited I’ll be able to walk around without worrying about my purse getting caught on tree branches, or swiped by petty thieves. In fact, I think I’ll rock this through the airport for quick access to my phone, passport, cash and ID. And Josh is ecstatic I’m finally using this overpriced piece of denim.







Unbeweavable Sale On My Donna Bella Hair Extensions

Fuller Hair Without TumbleWeaves, On-going Maintenance or the Dreaded Medusa Do

The only thing I loath more than under eye wrinkles, is paper-thin hair. Either cut that shit, or stock up on Donna Bella hair extensions during the Black Friday 4 Day Sales Event!

I ONLY rock Donna Bella kera-link hair extensions. And I’ve tried them all.

Great Lengths Hair Extensions, So.Cap, Vision, Lord and Cliff, Vision, West Coast Hair, His and Hers Hair, Celebrity Extensions, D’Vine Lengths, Hairdreams, Cinderella Hair, Micro-Cylinder, Basic Links, Klix, Clip-Ins… you name it, I’ve tried it!

Donna Bella never leaves me with tumbleweaves, slippage (if installed correctly), broken down bonds, shedding or matted glue and/or hair. I buy 8-11 packs of Donna Bella’s kera-link hair strand-by-strand fusion extensions in either the 22″ or 18″.

Donna Bella Black Friday Sales Event Details

Check out Donna Bella’s site for more information.  Donna Bella is offering a ton of perks, which vary day-to-day.

Friday, November 28th, all professional hair extensions will be 15% off. Clip-ins will be 50% off.  In addition, you receive money back in the form of a gift card.

Donna Bella Black Friday Sales Event

Cyber Monday offers a spin at the wheel for an additional percentage off.

Vanessa’s Hair Extension Guide

Hair extensions before/afterThe Rundown
Finding the right extension method will depend on budget, preference, and hair type. While fusion and tape-in extensions can be used on just about any hair texture, weaves are best suited for curly, kinky hair. I think links are best suited for coarse hair as well; I had to run around with a pair of tightening pliers in my handbag when I tried links.

Fusion extensions tend to be the most expensive ($500 to $4,000) and have the most time-consuming application process (up to three hours); they also last the longest (three to four months). By purchasing directly from Donna Bella, I end up spending $600-$700 every 17 weeks.

The tape-in application process is much faster (about an hour) and more affordable, but requires more frequent maintenance (every six to eight weeks).

Laura Kemezis and Joanna Calhoun-Shaver at Complete Beauty in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan install all different types for unbeatable prices.

Human Versus Synthetic Hair
When it comes to purchasing hair, you get what you pay for. Price will vary greatly based on quality of the hair, as well as the desired quantity (for thickness) and length. Synthetic hair is much cheaper ($50 to $100) but won’t blend or style the way human hair does. I only buy human. I dye and heat style my extensions.

How to Cut and Style
Good extensions should be entirely undetectable—blending your natural hair with the extension is critical. The best way to do this? A great cut. After the extensions are in, your hair should be cut DRY, with layers that blend the two hair types. You can color extensions darker (no bleaching!), but it’s best to choose a shade close to your natural color to avoid over processing. Or you can mix and match various shades for a more natural-looking blend. Julie Miklush at Bashar Salon in Somerset Collection in Troy gives THE BEST cut.  THE BEST.  

Removal is more difficult than extensions with easily broken down bonds. I can remove a head of Lord and Cliff fusion extensions in 30 minutes. It takes me hours to remove a full head of Donna Bella.

When it’s time to remove my Donna Bella fusion extensions, to ensure the least amount of damage possible, I do it myself at home. No one is going to be as gentle with your hair as you will be. I use the highest percentage of rubbing alcohol I can get my hands on, squirt the alcohol directly onto the bond and crack the bond with needle nose pliers. Then I simply pull the extension out.

Repeat 80-110 times.

The Damage
Putting additional stress on your hair will result in some damage, regardless of the type of extension you choose. Placement is also essential. Extensions should be placed where hair is strongest. Try to avoid areas along the hairline, where hair is the most fragile. Also, do removal yourself, at-home, when you have plenty of time.

How to Apply Fake Lashes: Tutorial & Review of Younique Fiber Lash Mascara


Forget fake lashes!  Forget eyelash extensions.  Achieve the same look with Younique Fiber Mascara.

People are always asking me to recommend a life-changing mascara.  This is IT!

The 3D Fiber Lashes thicken, lengthen and promote curl.  It is water resistant but easily washes off with warm water and facial cleanser.  The price is right on par with any mascara you would purchase from Ulta or Sephora.


The three-step process combines Transplanting Gel and Natural Fibers (in 2 different tubes) to help create the appearance of incredible thickness and volume to your existing lashes.


To prepare your eyelashes for optimal results, curl your eyelashes, then apply one thin coat of your own regular favorite mascara and let it dry.

Apply Moodstruck Transplanting Gel to your lashes.

Immediately following, and while the gel is still wet, apply the Moodstruck Natural Fibers.

Reapply the Transplanting Gel a second time to seal the natural fibers onto your lashes.

Repeat until you’re satisfied with the length.

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The feather-like fibers can be off-putting at first; however, the end result really is fantastic and lasts all day.

I never trust before/after photos, and had an extremely difficult time trying to capture the effect on myself, so check out my vlog below, which features the FULL application process.  Fast forward to 7:16 for the actual review.  The video is slightly ridiculous! I didn’t shower, am wearing gym clothes and take you through the ENTIRE unedited application process, so you can see in real-time that it takes 5-7 minutes to achieve dramatic volume and length.  It isn’t exactly exciting, but gives you an accurate idea of how the mascara works.  Don’t hate.

Also, I would like to note that I am not a Younique representative and earn no commission on purchases; however, my representative, Lonni Jo, is as knowledgeable as she is gorgeous.  Lonni Jo set up an online party for me, so you can purchase it HERE.


20% Off Sephora’s Holiday Event: Shopping Guide

 WARNING: Sephora.com Keeps Crashing

Today through November 10th, Sephora VIB and VIB Rouge Members get 20% off in-store and online with code GIFTROUGE or GIFTVIB.  If you don’t have VIB status, a VIB friend can let you use her 20% friend in-store pass.  If you can’t make it to Sephora in-person, ask a friend to use her online account, which includes free shipping.

Take this opportunity to load up on staples you know you will purchase in the next 6 months (foundation, eyeliner, powder), the pricier items you’ve been eyeing that never go on-sale anywhere else (Clarisonic, fragrance, hair styling tools) and limited edition holiday gift sets.

Shop top beauty gifts for her under $25.

Last night my mom and I attended the pre-sale party, where we dined on cupcakes, loaded up on free samples and purchased a lot of make up.

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My Purchases
MAKE UP FOR EVER Studio Case / Studio Case
MAKE UP FOR EVER 242 Large Blender Brush / 242 Large Blender Brush
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Caramel
Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick / Luminous Crème Lipstick Vouvray
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Sephora All A Glow Face Palette (concealer, blush and highlighter set for contouring)
Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder
Givenchy Photo’Perfexion Fluid Foundation 20 SPF
Sephora PRO Flawless Powder Brush #40
Sephora Perfecting Concealer Brush #20
SEPHORA COLLECTION Classic Multitasker Powder Brush #45 / Classic Multitasker Powder Brush #45
Hourglass Ambient Blush Palette
Narsissist Cheek Kit
Laura Mercier Baby Lips
Laura Mercier Natural Lips Lip Pencil
Fresh Sugar Lip Legends / Sugar Lip Legends
Sephora Favorites Draw The Line / Draw The Line
Sephora Favorites Cologne Sampler / Cologne Sampler

Stand Outs
SEPHORA COLLECTION Classic Multitasker Powder Brush #45 / Classic Multitasker Powder Brush #45
My favorite NEW find!  With its 5 star rating and 7,000+ loves on Sephora.com, it looks like I’m not alone.  My mom even purchased one!  It’s super soft bristles flawlessly apply, buff and blur your liquid, cream or powder foundation.  I own the Urban Decay Optical Blurring Brush and think this Sephora brush is superior in every way!  Click “Shop Now” below for the direct link.



Givenchy Photo’Perfexion Fluid Foundation 20 SPF
I’m usually loyal to Make Up For Ever and Urban Decay Naked; however, I think this is my new go-to foundation.

It’s a creamy foundation with SPF protection that works like a concealer to correct imperfections, smooth the skin’s texture, and even out the complexion.  With the expertise and speed of a digital retoucher, Photo’Perfexion conceals dark shadows and sallow complexions.  It goes on smooth and velvety and delivers a flawless finish minus the heavy, cakey feeling.  I used it in-store with the SEPHORA COLLECTION Classic Multitasker Powder Brush.


Buyer’s Remorse
MAKE UP FOR EVER Studio Case / Studio Case
Sephora All A Glow Face Palette (concealer, blush and highlighter set for contouring)
*Both of these products were lackluster and the same looks can be attained with products you probably already own.

WARNING: Sephora.com Keeps Crashing

I was on Sephora.com last night starting at 8 PM – this morning around 11 AM, trying to score the 1 thing I had my eye on that isn’t available in stores:  simplehuman Sensor Mirror – Sensor-Activated Lighted Makeup Mirror.  Unfortunately, Sephora.com has been down due to the high volume of traffic and I missed out!  I’m always running late and it’s usually dark by time I get my face together… so I was looking forward to this cordless mirror that promises to illuminate your face with natural light and “adapts to your behavior … It becomes more sensitive during use, so it won’t turn off unexpectedly.”  I even called Sephora, pled my case and begged them to look around for one of these babies… they laughed at me.  It’s available on Amazon for less than the $200 retail, so I may try to sneak that one past Josh and write a review.


Holiday Shopping List
Sephora has a ton of inexpensive, high-quality gift sets.  If someone has a signature look – black eyeliner, red lips, celebrity-inspired contouring- purchase a gift set you know they will use while encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone.  For example, my MIL always wears black eyeliner and red lips.  Finding the perfect red lip is quite the feat, so I purchased her Sephora Favorites Draw The Line Gift Set, so she can experiment with several different types of black eyeliner. Fragrances never go on sale, so I stocked up on Sephora Favorites Cologne Samplers for the men in my life.

s1633072-main-hero-300Shop value sets and gifts at Sephora.

The Sephora Favorites Cologne Sampler features 12 samples in a faux-leather toiletry case and a voucher for 1 full size bottle of cologne.  There is also a perfume version for ladies.

Happy Shopping!