I’ve seen a ton of gift guides the past few weeks so I think you’re covered. To be quite honest, you wouldn’t want one from me anyway; I’m a terrible gift giver.

Instead, I’m giving you three holiday must-haves that you should Amazon Prime ASAP. They’re essentials, BUT they’ll be great for the holiday traveler and the person who is looking to enjoy the holiday food, but not go over board.

The Brunette Blend-Not Another Gift Guide 3 Holiday Must-Haves from Amazon

Rose Hip Oil
Yes, I am still very much into my facial oils! This is perfect for those who traveling during the holidays. Instead of juggling a makeup remover, moisturizer and primers, you can take your oil. It can be used to remove makeup (especially under eyes) and can be used a moisturizer and makeup primer. The anti-aging properties don’t hurt either.

Facial Oil 101 – Your Burning Questions Answered

GG Crackers
OK, I could talk all day about these crackers. If you haven’t listened to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast with F-Factor founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot (episode #90), GET ON IT NOW. Tanya talks all about the power and health benefits of having enough fiber in your diet. This brings me to the crackers. GG crackers are loaded with fiber and have approx. 2 grams of net carbs. When you pair fiber with protein, you’re left feeling fuller for a longer period of time (which will help you make better choices! I’ve lost 3lbs already with the F-Factor method.) I plan on incorporating these during the holidays so I’m not hanging by the cookie trays all night.

P.S. I made a killer chicken parm with these crackers. Should I share the recipe?

itCosmetics CC+ Illumination Cream
Its the holidays, we want to look our best BUT the reason for the season is family and friends. Since a lot of us have limited vacation time, we want to take advantage of being all together. Simplifying your makeup routine over the holiday break is a sure way to free up sometime (I know I’m not the only one that can take over an hour to get ready!) This CC cream provides great coverage AND has anti-aging (win) serums within. No need for extra foundation with this one. Two pumps, some bronzer, blush, and mascara and you’re done in under 10.

3 Must Have Beauty Products That Really Bring It

What are you putting in your Amazon cart lately? What are your holiday must-haves? I’m still in awe by what all lives on Amazon. Help me explore!

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Kicked Coffee For A Week And Im Still Alive-French Press

I’ve been regularly drinking coffee since the summer going into my sophomore year of college (approx. 5 years). Started with white chocolate mochas and ended up drinking strong French press coffee. I told myself I didn’t have time for decaf (I actually tweeted that once)…

But was I becoming too dependent on the drink? I was getting to the point where it was difficult to function without it. I guess the answer is ‘yes,’ on that dependent point. My friend told me she cut back on coffee and felt so much better overall. I’m inspired, I begin a coffee detox immediately. My goal is one week.

Day 1: massive headache. MASSIVE. This sucks. Caffeine withdrawals are no joke. My eyes hurt, too…?

Day 2: mild headache, but I feel pretty good. This could be a placebo effect. I go to sleep with zero problems.

Day 3: I wake up easier and don’t have the intense need to make a cup of coffee. I feel like my teeth are whiter and notice I don’t feel the need to grab a midday breath mint.

Day 4: I miss the smell and taste. I try hot water with lemon. Obviously not the same, but the warmth in the morning is soothing. Plus, I feel healthier somehow. With my lemon water.

Day 5: a mild headache hangs on, but I’m offered coffee and I turn it down. Is this a new me…?

Day 6: I wake up energized and don’t feel sluggish. Hand me that hot lemon water.

Day 7: I made it! Seven whole days without a drop of coffee or caffeine and I’m still alive.

I know I said one week, BUT I think I’m going to keep it up and let you know how things progress. One week without coffee is a small step with some initial results, but now I’m itching to see if more times does, well, MORE. I can still feel some withdrawal, but overall I feel more energized with better sleep habits and oral hygiene. AND since I chugged water and tea, my skin feels insanely hydrated.

Will I cut coffee completely? No, but I think it could be treated more as a want than a need. As long as I’m not dependent on it EVERYDAY, I think I’m making moves.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

You may have picked up on the fact I’m all about orange this season. My latest interest, though? CORDUROY.

Not the childhood book (although it is a classic), the material.

The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend

Its a sure way to add some fall feels to your wardrobe and its totally versatile. Think button downs, chunky sweaters, or even a basic tee with some flair. I’m building so many outfits in my head with just ONE SKIRT.

If you’re looking to add some corduroy to your closet, check these out:

Loft’s Corduroy Button Down Skirt

My new love AND its 40% off…. just saying.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Button Down Skirt-LOFT

ASOS Moto Cord Pocket Pinafore Dress

OK, SERIOUSLY?! The cord, the color. Is it a need or a want…?
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Overall Dress-Top Shop

Rage Cord Zip Front Dress

This one is super versatile. Pair a long sleeve shirt underneath during the chilly months and lose it for a cute sleeveless dress.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Zip Front-Asos

Lulu’s Overalls

Sort of loving these overalls for a more casual weekend look.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Cord overalls-Lulus

Nordstrom’s A-Line Skirt

A perfect camel color with a zip and a single button. Classic.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Cord a line skirt-Nordstrom

Soooo, how are you feeling about cords?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-PINEAPPLING- How To Preserve Hairstyle + Add Volume-Pineapples
PINEAPPLING. Have you ‘pineappled’ your hair yet? If not, start TONIGHT. Its SO easy (it’ll make your head spin). I was introduced to the technique after reading Brit + Co’s article on the subject. I put it to the test and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this sooner. (Also, why was I reading this Feb. 2016 article last week for the first time?)

Pineappling is a beyond easy way to style your hair before bed to create next day volume and PRESERVE your hair style.

Too many mornings I wake up and have to (or should) completely redo my hair. It becomes a time suck in my morning routine, plus I try to limit the amount of heat used on my hair (I prefer 2-3x MAX). Thanks to the EASIEST hair hack ever, little to no touch up is needed.

All you need to ‘pineapple’ your hair is an old-school scrunchie. THESE have been my tried and true since I can remember. One is never far from me at night.

Pineappling Your Hair: How To

1. With your head down, gather hair toward your hairline/forehead (the closer, the better.)
2. Lightly secure a loose bun (AKA your pineapple)
3. Sleep.

Just to prove it really works, I blew dry my hair straight the night before. This is quite the test, as my hair ALWAYS curls at night.

Documenting my process: night before, morning, and the immediate reveal.
PINEAPPLING- How To Preserve Hairstyle + Add Volume-Process

With the majority of your hair (and style) away from your pillow, the style is undisturbed. The bonus of the hair having to be up so high is that it creates volume in your hair. Below is my final product. All I did was comb through with a wide-tooth comb and lightly curl the ends to fake a blow out. I was early to work.

The Brunette Blend-PINEAPPLING- How To Preserve Hairstyle + Add Volume-Process-Finished Hair

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Like most people, I’m no stranger to face masks. I’m all too familiar with opening up a package and placing a slimy, face shaped cloth on my face. While its cool and refreshing, I never really felt like it did anything for my skin.

Blackheads live on my nose, my chin is prone to some pimples, and my cheeks can get dry and bumpy. One wet paper mask isn’t going to cut it. Different parts of the face have different needs. We can’t expect a mask to be a one-size-fits-all.

Today, we have SO many face mask options that offer a variety of benefits. So why not use them all at once in designated areas? This is called multi masking. Since I have a thing for multitasking, it was time to multi mask.

The Brunette Blend-A Multi Mask with Zoetic's New Clay Masks-Zoetic Mask Flaylay

My absolute FAVORITE skincare line, Zoetic, has introduced a line of clay masks. I am on Oprah-loves-bread status excited for these babies. There are masks for brightening, tightening, cleansing and smoothing. I put three to the test: Clean Slate, Mermaid Mask, and Matcha Love.

The Brunette Blend-The Brunette Blend-A Multi Mask with Zoetic's New Clay Masks-Multi Mask

Zoetic’s clay masks are 100% natural and do not contain any fillers. This means you’re getting an extremely pure product.

For my nose, I used Clean Slate which has activated charcoal to deeply cleanse and detoxify (because I’m not playing with these blackheads + clogged pores). Mermaid Mask laid on my cheeks to tone and tighten, while I put Matcha Love on my forehead and chin to refresh and firm. After applying, all I had to do was let it dry. You could feel the masks start working immediately. Great start.

I didn’t know this, but clay actually draws out impurities and toxins from your pores. It also increases blood circulation. The more you know.

The Brunette Blend-A MULTI MASK WITH ZOETIC’S NEW CLAY MASKS-Matcha Love Clay mask

Zoetic’s powdered masks really catered to the areas I wanted to focus on. A few drops of water and I had the freshest mask. I know I shouldn’t, but I CANNOT STOP TOUCHING MY FACE. It hasn’t been this smooth and soft for a long time. This is the first time I feel like a mask truly did something for my skin.

The multi mask combined with these quality products gave me a brighter, more even complexion in specific areas, while others extracted dirt and oil…after just one use.

I give both multimasking and Zoetic’s clay masks a 11/10.

… or as Usher would say, ‘on a 1 to 10, [they’re] a certified 20.’

I’m thinking of making a girls night out of it. Girlfriends, masks that actually work and some rosé.

The Brunette Blend-A Multi Mask with Zoetic's New Clay Masks-Zoetic Clay Mask

Learn more about Zoetic and their AMAZING products HERE.

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature
Special thanks to Zoetic for sharing their masks with us and helping make multimasking a success!

Flowers crowns have been the one trend I have been drying to try. I’m seeing them EVERYWHERE. Weddings, photoshoots, on babies…I even tried making Indy wear one. STOP THE CUTENESS.

My wish finally came true thanks to Crown Yourself Designs. I received what I will be referring to as an autumnal goddess crown. Its so fun and different for me. It gave my loose waves some personality and flare. I can see why this has been such a hot hair piece. It totally elevated my style AND made a photoshoot 100% more fun + interesting.

The Brunette Blend-GIVEAWAY- Flower Crowns x Crown Yourself Designs

Lilly of Crown Yourself Designs HAND MAKES these beauties. She has such a unique and creative eye for gorgeous florals and arrangements. Her shop features a charming variety of flower crowns. From big and bold to simple and sweet, there is a crown for you (and your baby. SHE MAKES MATCHING SETS AND THERE IS NOTHING CUTER!)

Clearly, I’m Oprah level excited for Crown Yourself Designs

Since sharing is caring, The Brunette Blend and Crown Yourself Designs have partnered to give YOU your choice of flower crown. Here’s how to enter:

How to Win a Flower Crown by Crown Yourself Designs

-Like THIS PHOTO on Instagram
-Follow both @thebrunetteblend + @crownyouselfdesigns
-EXTRA ENTRIES: tag friends

Go, go,go, GO! Giveaway will be open until 11/2/17 to US only. Winner will be drawn on 11/3/17. Adult crowns only. This is no way sponsored by Instagram.

Find Crown Yourself Designs HERE + HERE.

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

We have officially entered SWEATER WEATHER. I KNOW I’m not the only one excited at the thought of cozy sweaters and becoming some type of sweater/blanket burrito.

The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Samantha Sweater

{Exact sweater HERE}

Its been an awaited season and the sweater temptation is the air. Last week, Target had a buy one, get one 50% off on all of their sweaters. I mean, I didn’t want to lose money, so I had to take advantage of the sale. You know what is difficult? Finding a sweater that doesn’t look exactly like the ones you already own.

Today we’re sharing some sweater inspiration that will create diversity in your closet, as well as find the perfect sweater for four common occasions, such as ‘Leave Me Alone’.
IMPORTANT NOTE: all of these come in different color options. Clearly, I have a problem: I chose to only display orange and pink tones *shrug* I’m working on it, OK? Focus on the styles…

The Work Appropriate Sweater

Opt for a more fitted sweater with a bold sleeve. Ruffled and bell sleeves are really on trend AND add some flare to any look. Elegant, somewhat understated and adds fun to your wardrobe.
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion-Work Sweater
{Find it HERE}

The Casual Weekend Sweater

Add a pop of color for the weekend. I’m really in love with reds and burnt oranges for fall. Also have some fun with your sleeves. A puff or bishop sleeve adds an element of fun. A New Day at Target has a gorgeous sweater thats red with a puff sleeve (snagged it during the sweater sale) I’ll share a link once its up online, because its a beauty.
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion-Weekend Sweater 3
{Find it HERE}

The ‘Leave Me Alone’ Sweater

Oversized/roomie with a big neck. This sweater is cozy and for your laziest of days (or after those long work days). Retreat into comfort and run away from bras.
The Brunette Blend-The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Leave Me Alone Sweater
{Find it HERE}

The ‘Its Too Hot, But I Still Want to Wear a Sweater’ Sweater

If it truly is too warm to wear a sweater, but you still want to, because FALL- go for a cardigan (pull overs WILL seal all the warmth in and you’ll be disappointed). A chunky cardigan will capture the fall essence we all know and love, while the openness will let your breathe. Sweater wearing technique for warm days: let the cardigan slide/hang off your shoulders for a more relaxed, still cute look (but really you’re just getting some much needed air flow).
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Hot Sweater

{Find it HERE}

Key take aways: switch up colors, textures and patterns to avoid a closet full of the same sweater. Don’t forget about those fun sleeves!

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The importance of removing makeup at the end of the day is SO important, but how clean in your face? Sharing the three areas to focus on for clean skin.
How clean is your face really?

If you aren’t completely removing your makeup (EVERY nook and cranky) before cleaninsing, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? You may not realize that your #MOTD is still hanging around and waiting to plant pimples.

The Brunette Blend-How Clean Is Your Face Three Commonly Missed Areas When Removing Makeup

I thought my skin was makeup free after washing with my cream cleanser in the evenings, but sadly, I was mistaken. While using makeup wipes after a shower to remove mascara, I found my foundation and bronzer were being picked up. Instead of my skin being cleansed, I was removing only a layer of makeup.

You know what that equals? Clogged pores and surprise guests (PIMPLES).

After this horrific realization and making myself a semi-guinea pig, I found that adding an extra step to a nighttime skin routine AND focusing on three frequently missed areas can make all the difference.

Three Commonly Missed Areas When Removing Makeup

1. Hairline. We’re all about having our makeup look natural, so we pull and dab it into our hairline to get a seamless look. While this a good makeup trick, you NEED to make sure you’re removing the makeup at the end of the day. Its easy to wash your face and stay clear of your hair if you don’t want to wash it that day. Over time, this leftover makeup can build up and cause breakouts.

2. Nose. The sides and bridge of your nose need a little extra love when it comes to washing your makeup off. Foundations and creams can get caked around the nose and cause dryness and blemishes if not removed. I was washing my face so quickly that I wasn’t giving this area enough attention. This resulted in dead skin, flakes and uneven makeup. Plus, IT WAS SO ITCHY.

3. Neck. This is definitely an area that is overlooked when washing. If you’re pulling your makeup down to your neck (if not, you should) to create a more natural, seamless look, that leftover makeup can cause some damage, too. Think wrinkles and you guessed it, pimples.

For your cleanest skin, use a makeup wipe (I’m using THIS) or use a cotton round with oil to remove makeup from all areas of your skin. Then, your regular cleanser can take a deeper dive into pores and work on your skin on how its intended.

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

I don’t know about your location, but Chicagoland is extremely temperature confused. Two days its 80+ degrees and the next its 60 and rainy. I desperately want to break out the cozy sweaters, but fear I may internally cook myself. Let’s face it. There is nothing fashionable about knit sweaters and over the knee boots while you’re drenched in sweat.

All of that brings me to TRANSITIONAL OUTFITS. With three items, you can mix and match to create weather appropriate outfits. Think a mix of fall and summer fashion, but less sweaty.

The Brunette Blend-Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits-Jean Jacket

Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits

1. Jean + Leather Jackets: You KNOW how much I LOVE my jean jacket. Denim is just as popular in the fall as it was in the summer. This round, though, its a little more functional. Pop it over a sundress with fall tones for a cool, autumnal look. A leather jacket can add an edgier splash of fall.

2. Cropped Sweaters: This is an easy way to pumpkin SPICE up your look. Take one of your favorites dresses and top it off with a cropped sweater. This will make your outfit look like a classic two piece.

3. Booties: We all know fall is the season to break out boots. Short ankle boots can give you that fall factor without over heating your legs.

While some new pieces are nice, new isn’t necessary for a fresh look. What are you rocking this hot and cold season?

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits

Now that its feeling a little more like fall outside, I’ve brought the vibe inside. One of my favorite things to do is to flip a room to match a specific season. A few little swaps and adds can transform a room. No painting or new furniture required. Matching your outfit to the pillows is optional.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Samantha Boots

Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space

1. Change your accents. Pillows and throws are easy ways to set the tone of your room. They also are extremely easy to switch out! White, gold and grey accents are great bases to add more fall-like colors. We chose a plaid orange, white and grey throw to compliment the variety of pillows we have in the space.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Pillow Set Up

2. Revamp your mantel. Fall isn’t a lush season, so allow your mantel to reflect that. Let the outdoors inspire you! Add staw-like, budding faux plants to add height. While you want to pull in browns, add warm, jewel tones to add color + interest. Add picks to wreaths and vases for additional color to tie it all together. For more tips on creating your mantel, read previous post: 7 Tips for Creating a Pinterest Worthy Mantel HERE.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Mantel Set Up

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall mantel

3. Spice up the coffee table. Similar rules to the mantel apply. You want to add height, color and interest. For our set up, we took two brown books to prop up a golden lantern, we paired this next to a deep red fake plant and tiny white pumpkin to break up all the orange and browns we have in the room.

4. ADD AN AREA RUG. This will INSTANTLY make your space feel cozier. It also helps ties the room together. We found this rug at Kmart and its pet friendly, which means easy clean up and no chewing temptation.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Area Rug2

Room shot and a few other inspiration photos below! Stay tuned for a room revamp. Oranges and purples coming at cha. What colors are you using this fall?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Living Room

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Living Room Trick or Treat

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall mantel 2