The past few months I have had these acne-like bumps on my chin and cheekbones. Nothing crazy red or irritated, just ANNOYING underground bumps (you’ll see them in a minute). I’ve done research on this before and came to the conclusion that I was facing acne cosmetica once again. Ugh.

Acne cosmetica results in small bumps on the surface of your skin from hair or makeup products.

Haven’t heard of acne cosmetica? Here’s the deal: acne cosmetica is small bumps on the surface of your skin caused by hair or skin products. Overtime, products clog your pores and result in pimple-like bumps.

The ones that drove me CRAZY were on my cheekbones. It didn’t matter how much or how little makeup I wore, they were still present. They were impossible to cover up and I felt like a dragon.

For the record, this is NOT sponsored, I genuinely am in LOVE with this product.

Enter in Principal Secret, an anti-aging skincare line that I grew up watching my mom use (she still uses it today and has amazing skin). PS check out the founder Victoria Principal, SKINCARE GOALS (!!!) She’s 67 and has AMAZING skin. Anyway, I’ve used their cleanser and masks on and off, but took the plunge and purchased a set full of goodies with Paul over the phone (thanks, Paul!). It arrived one week later and I got to work with bringing my skin back.

The Brunette Blend- Lets Talk Acne Cosmetica + How I Put An End to Mine-Principal Secret- Before and After

And you guys, TWO DAYS. TWO DAYS my skin noticeably cleared up. Grant was even telling me how clean my face was looking (without knowing I was using new product). I couldn’t have been happier to see less and less bumps.

The photos are a little blurry and completely unedited. I’m actually wearing less makeup in the after photo. Two days and seeing a result is success in my book.

I’ve always loved the cleansers and moisturizer, but truly realized its power paired with the gentle scrub. We don’t understand how much makeup and dead skin is clogging our pores. The scrub makes a DIFFERENCE and takes off more than we can physically see. I’ve been using it a few times a week, but its gentle enough to use everyday if needed. The gentle enzyme treatment is now my weekly TREAT to get my skin in shape. Its all very gentle on skin and fragrance-free.

Lets Talk Acne Cosmetica + How I Put An End to Mine-Principal Secret

I’ve found the secret to ending acne cosmetica is a good skincare routine and a regular scrub.

The Advanced line is AMAZING, but they also have different lines and products depending on what you’re trying to accomplish and where your skin is at in its life. You can purchase sets, separates, or even mix and match.

The secret to clearing up acne cosmetica is a good skincare routine (that includes taking care of your makeup and utensils!) and SCRUB. If you’re on the hunt for a line that REALLY works and will deliver promising skincare results, check out Principal Secret. Its better to order over the phone, but my online oriented-friends, ITS WORTH IT.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Back with another makeup oriented post- why? Because its wedding season and I KNOW we’re all trying to nail our makeup. When it comes to makeup, my biggest problem is foundation. Everything seems to flake or fade throughout the day. Based on one of my recent posts, you know I like to save where I can when it comes to makeup. Let’s dive into my 4 favorite foundations that deliver and LAST.

The Brunette Blend- Four Affordable + Lasting Foundations for Everyone-Makeup

If the foundation has SPF, THROW IT IN MAH CART.

it Cosmetics CC+ Cream
With SPF 50 in this bad boy, there isn’t a question. While its a little more pricy than what you’ll find at the drugstore, its worth every penny. It provides full coverage along with anti-aging benefits. This CC cream is a staple in a makeup bag. You can use it as a primer or wear it on its own. (I love using it solo, it gives a dewy, fresh look). You can also snag the travel size.

L’Oreal Infallible Full Cover Foundation
For those looking for FULL coverage at a good price, here it is. This truly does provide full coverage and lasts through the day. While its lightweight, it can feel thicker compared to a CC cream, but the coverage is top notch. A little goes a long way, so the tube won’t desert you too quickly!

L’Oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream
This stuff is really cool. Its a beauty balm that smoothes imperfections, brightens and can serve as a great primer. The best part about this cream is that it adjusts. Meaning that when you squeeze it out of the tube, its white and will adjust to your skin tone. I went a shade darker so when it develops it gives me a little more of a glow for the summer months. This is another one that can be used as a primer or by itself for a light weight wear.

No.7 Stay Perfect Foundation The best $15 foundation out there in my opinion. Not only is it way affordable, but creates an amazing, clear look with a makeup sponge that is damp (with water or a few drops of facial oil). BONUS. It has SPF 15 for some added protection. Its lightweight and doesn’t get cake-y.

Do you have a favorite foundation you can’t live without? PLEASE SHARE!

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Makeup can be EXPENSIVE and it adds up quick. I’m not one to blow money on makeup, so if you open up my caboodle (100% this over the makeup bag game) you’ll find 1-2 products that may be a little more expensive. Other than that, drugstore finds are much more my speed.

The Brunette Blend-top 5 drugstore makeup finds-makeup tips

Without further ado…

Top 5 Drugstore Makeup Finds

Maybelline BB cream. I usually opt for lighter coverage because I feel like my skin breathes better. This stuff minimizes the look of pores and redness. It also can help with acne.

Conceal + Bake
Neutrogena ® 3 in 1 Concealer. This is by FAR the best concealer. Super affordable and provides great coverage. You can also use it to listen up parts of your face. Don’t forget to BAKE with powder so it lasts throughout the day. Mineral “Set It & Don’t Fret It” Matte Finishing Powder will change your life at $9 bucks.

L’Oreal® Paris Voluminous Superstar Mascara. This is the mascara you need in your life. SCOUTS HONOR. We’ve talked about the power of priming before and let me tell you, still working wonders. If you want to step up your lash game without painfully swiping your credit card, try this one.

No7 Match Made Blusher. Blush just makes me feel alive. A slight pinkness to your cheeks seals the deal for me. I really No.7 beauty products and this blush doesn’t disappoint.

Ok. So what am I missing? What does my caboodle NEED?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

SUPER into eye masks right now and into anti-aging ALWAYS. I’ve been focusing on my eyes lately. I’m someone that sleeps too hard or sleeps too little and wakes up with tired, puffy eyes. There are different ways to combat this issue, but I wanted to find something that multitasked, provided a little anti-aging boost accompanied by taking down the puff!

The Brunette Blend-What's Up With Under Eyes + How to Get the Most Out of Your Eye Masks

I’m not the only one that feels this way. When it comes to eyes, a lot of concern revolves around dark circles, puffiness or ‘bags’ underneath the eye. If you’re like me, you’re like ‘WHY?’

Bags are caused by the weakening of tissue and muscle that supports your eyelids.

“As you age, the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. The skin may start to sag, and fat that is normally confined to the area around the eye (orbit) can move into the area below your eyes. Also, the space below your eyes can accumulate fluid, making the under-eyearea appear puffy or swollen.” [Source]

For this reason, finding an eye mask with collagen is AWESOME. I know, I know. We’ve heard a TON about collagen, but what is it exactly and why is it being used? “Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the substance that holds the whole body together. It is found in the bones, muscles, skin and tendons, where it forms a scaffold to provide strength and structure.” [Source]

I’ve been exploring different eye masks since I remember the first one I ever did in high school was like paper mache. By far my favorite is this one. BONUS it’s only 9 bucks, which makes it a budget friendly treat for your skin. If you’re looking to explore the eye mask scene, but not ready to bust out $$$ for under eye pads, I HIGHLY recommend checking the Hydrogel Collagen Under Eye Patch out.


How to Get the Most Out of Your Eye Masks

for puffy eyes. chill your eye masks in the fridge. The coolness will help depuff sleepy eyes or eyes that are swollen from watching A Walk to Remember. Also, throwing major hints at you college kids (FINALS!)

multitask. I want to get the most out of my eye masks so I wear them in AM while making breakfast and doing my hair. Eyes are fresh for when it’s makeup time.

collagen. we just talked aaaalll about it. Collagen helps to restore skin elasticity. With under eyes being thin and delicate, this comes in handy.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

I went makeup free for a week and it wasn’t as scary as I thought. For the most part I opt for a CC cream for the week at work, while on the weekends I go from foundation to nothing.

The Brunette Blend-I Went Makeup Free for a Week and Here's What Happened

Recently, I noticed subtle bumps near my templates and filled pores. So not feeling it. As I was running low on my favorite CC+ cream, I decided to do an experiment. No makeup for a week. Mascara and eyebrows were allowed. The only thing that was allowed on my face was moisturizer (with SPF, of course).

Without makeup, my skin was able to breathe and clear any imperfections on its own.

►After a few days I noticed that the bumps I saw were slowly diminishing. Without makeup, my skin was able to breathe and clear any imperfections on its own. My clogged pores were even beginning to clear up after a mask.

►Those after workout pimples were no more. Its normal for me to occasionally find a small pimple (that goes away after a day or two) after an intense workout. Since my skin was makeup free, my pores weren’t be clogged with makeup and picking up dirt and sweat. Note to self: ALWAYS remove your makeup before a workout.

►My husband thought I was wearing foundation. After a few days of only filling in my brows and using mascara, Grant would compliment my makeup saying, ‘you should do your makeup like that more often, it looks great!’ Mwhahaha. If only he knew it took me literally 2 minute to do.

►I was saving A LOT of time. I didn’t realize how long it actually took to do my makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spent a ton of time painting my face. When it comes to doing your makeup AND hair, that’s like a half hour total. Now my makeup was approx. two minutes and I was done. Easy.

The big takeaway is that my skin improved in under seven days by going makeup free.”

Obviously the big take away is that my skin improved in under seven days. It just needed a breather. I enjoy makeup, so saying I’m never wearing it again is out of the question, BUT I think 2-3 days a week going makeup free would be fantastic for skin. With a great cleanser and moisturizer with SPF, your skin can be glowing with or without makeup.

SO. Would you consider going makeup free for a few days a week to treat your skin?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

When it comes to a great look, personally, I think a great smile seals the deal. We all know I have a thing for teeth and smiles. (Seriously, guys, I did a science fair project in grade school about teeth staining). I’m the girl that had braces for seven years straight and the last thing I want throwing off my ‘effortless’ look is my teeth. As an avid coffee drinker, I’ve stained my teeth. You would think based on my scientific grade school experiment, I would have stayed away.

Three Tips for Getting Your Whitest Smile Yet-Samantha Boots

Based on my grade school findings and general research, pretty much any beverage will stain your teeth. Coffee, tea, soda, wine and even WHITE tea can do damage. Since tooth enamel has tiny pits and ridges, beverages and food particles can be embedded into these grooves leaving you with that less than white smile. (Source)

Since most of us (including myself) can’t fathom giving up coffee (I promise this is best for all) or other beverages, there are steps you can take to prevent/correct staining.

My Top Three Tips for With Whiter Smile

1. Regularly brush AND floss.
This is a given. You know it. I know it. Regular brushing and flossing promotes healthy gums and wipes away any leftover food or drink particles that can hang around and stain. When possible, I try to have my morning coffee before I brush my teeth and head to work. This way coffee isn’t on my teeth all day soaking in (gaaah!) If you’re unable to brush after your drink, its recommended to rinse your mouth to help remove any potential pigment.

2. Easy at home whitening
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of brushing, flossing and/or rinsing after a staining bev. I’m 100% guilty of this, but luckily there are products out there that can help brighten smiles. Smile Brilliant is one of those products that gets it. Its a super easy system that cuts through stains to reveal your naturally white tooth color. LOVE THIS. I’ve mentioned it before, but the last thing I want is to look like Ross from Friends with his glow in the dark teeth.

I’ve been using Smile Brilliant’s teeth whitening system since August and it has significantly kept my teeth in check. Big deal as when it comes to products, I’m someone that doesn’t stick to things if they aren’t convenient and/or if I don’t see the benefit. You can see the beginning of my journey in this post. To say I was floored is an understatement. It actually still continues to amaze me. If you’re someone with sensitive teeth like me, don’t worry! There’s desensitizing gel which is literal comfort in a tube.

I’m almost at the year mark of using this system to whiten and brighten and I can’t tell you how easy it is to incorporate this system into your routine. Pop your trays in while you take a shower, spring clean, or my favorite, do your hair + makeup.

3. A great lipstick.
A shade can make or break the color of your teeth. Reds are obviously a great go-to because of their blue undertones. Lipsticks with blue undertones will bring out the whiteness of teeth, while ones with warmer undertones will bring out the yellowness in teeth.

I promise you, these are the easiest little things to implement for a white smile. If you’re interested in my secret weapon (Smile Brilliant) I highly recommend you check it out! You can learn more + order on their site here or learn more about my experience here.

Tips for whiter teeth feat. Smile Brilliant

I’m off to have a cup of coffee, followed by a little brush + floss and Smile Brilliant! Lots going on this weekend.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Loose waves are pretty much the ‘it’ hairstyle right now. Think Farrah Fawcett, but a little more relaxed + beachy. I’m all about it, because if you do it right, you can have loose/beachy waves for a few days. #LowMaintence (and you know I love to not constantly wash my hair). Its pretty much the perfect work/everyday do.

The Brunette Blend- Three Things for Loose Waves

Awesomely enough, its actually REALLY easy to achieve with the right iron + product. Other than a little curling or volumizing mousse, there are three things that I’m now never without when starting the style from scratch (bonus points for making it last and look good for a few days after).


When creating a hairstyle, the most important thing is your hair (OBVIOUSLY). A healthy scalp is important, too. I’ve been so tired of going through shampoo bottles, that I finally opted for a new way to shampoo. I now shampoo with a bar and this one specifically has made such an impact. You can learn more about it HERE.


Another obviously tool is a curling iron. I’m telling you, the type of curling iron makes ALL the difference. This one is AMAZING. I don’t feel like I’m ripping out my hair and the 1′-1/4′ size creates the perfect waves. All you have to do it place a section of hair in the clamp and leave about an inch or so out of the curling iron and curl. Boom. You look great.


I’ll admit, I was one of the people that got AMPED about Kristin Ess’ products being at my favorite spot, Target. C’mon, its a great product and insanely affordable. My first test was with the working texture spray and this stuff is GOLD. It creates the perfect piecey + volumized look without creating helmet hair or sticky strands.

Once you’ve got the look, all you have to do is maintain it for a few days. Dry shampoo + a low bun or pony at night (with, wait for it, SCRUNCHIE). You better believe I’m rocking this look today.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

When it comes to shampoo, I can really go either way. The past few months, shampoo has been really hard on my hair + scalp. Not to gross you out, but I was flaking SO bad. If this has happened to you, you know how uncomfortable (physically + socially) this is. Thankfully, Zoetic swooped in and saved the day with another amazing creation (and new obsession), shampoo bars.

The Brunette Blend-A New Way to Shampoo with Zoetic-Zoetic Shampoo Bars

Photo by Zoetic

Zoetic’s shampoo bars omit fillers and are instead filled with nutrient rich ingredients to promote healthy hair + scalp.

These bars are jammed packed with healthy + soothing ingredients while omitting fillers and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Parabens. Zoetic Shampoo Bars are concentrated + filled with nutrient rich ingredients to promote healthy hair + scalp. Some of the ingredients include Kokum Butter and Black Cumin Seed Oil. PLUS, it lasts longer than a regular bottle of shampoo. I’ve avidly using my Glamour bar for about a month + it looks like I just took it out of the box.

What I find the COOLEST is that there are three variations of the shampoo bar. You may think they are just different scents, but each incorporate a different ingredient to work with oily, normal or dry hair. Each shampoo bar has a different goal, because we get it, one size doesn’t always fit all.

Since using Zoetic’s shampoo bar, I’ve noticed healthier + stronger hair, less build up and more importantly, no flakes. The lather is INSANE. Seriously, you’ll have to try it to believe it, because I was NOT expecting it to pump out a lather that a palm of shampoo couldn’t do.

The Brunette Blend-A New Way to Shampoo with Zoetic-Glamour Shampoo Bar

So if you’re looking for a new way to poo (shampoo, hahah- ok, I’ll stop) look into these bars, better yet, look into this BRAND. If you’ve been following me for a while, you KNOW Zoetic has been my go-to lately. With their introduction of shampoo bars, they’ve officially become my go-to from head to toe.

Find your perfect shampoo bar HERE

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Special thanks to Zoetic for sharing these amazing shampoo bars + helping keep these brunette locks in check!

If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know I’m kind of along the lines of a skincare freak (thanks, mom). I don’t think many people would argue that healthy skin is something they try to receive and maintain. After all, you skin is truly your ‘foundation.’

The Brunette Blend- Clear + Healthy Skin Care Tips- Circcell Cleanser

Your skin is your foundation.

This goes for men and women, everyone can benefit from having a good skincare routine. Over the years, I’ve found what works for my skin. I still get an occasional breakout, but who doesn’t?

Cleanse Regularly
Ding ding ding. Washing your face regularly is a big one. I opt to wash in the morning and night. Morning to give my skin an energizing boost and set a clean stage if I’ll be wearing any makeup that day and night to remove any makeup, oil or dirt from the day. Its also important to clean your face (cleaner or wipes) after a workout as open pores are susceptible to dirt.
Currently LOVING this cleanser: Mandarin Cleaning Milk from CircCell

Cleansers do a great job of removing makeup, dirt and oil from the day, but it also takes away some of your skin’s naturally oils, so its important to replenish.

One thing that bothers me most is when skin feel tight and dry. Cleansers do a great job of removing makeup, dirt and oil from the day, but it also takes away some of your skin’s naturally oils, so its important to replenish. This means grab your facial oil, beauty balm or favorite cream. (To me, this is the best part). Pick which one works best for you + your skin.
Favorites: Zoetic Petal Drops, Amara Marie Tallow Beauty Balm and Gaia Rosehip Oil.

Go Makeup Free
If you’re a makeup wearer, opt to go at least one day a week without makeup. Not only is it kind of invigorating, it gives your skin a chance to breathe. Its a total treat for skin to get an entire day (instead of 8 hrs) of not being masked with products.

OMG. This one is HARD. I’ve always been the type of person to see an imperfection and try to squeeze whatever out that was clogging a pore. This is a NO NO, because you’re damaging the skin. Recently, I had two underground pimples that I of course had to mess with and I’m STILL paying for it. Unless its something extremely painful, (sorry to say this to anyone who gets grossed out) a whitehead and will come out with only using the force of Qtips. Who else is with me on practicing self control?

Use Sunscreen
This is where the mom in me comes out, SERIOUSLY WEAR SUNSCREEN. I’ll take plenty of teachings away from my mom, but this one is BURNED in my brain. Sun damage can cause wrinkles, imperfection and even cancer. We’re lathering ourselves in some many potions and creams, can we take 2.5 seconds to include sunscreen? I know, its summer, we want to be tan, but don’t damage your beautiful skin. I’ve been using a new self tanner and I actually like it! No orange (sorry high school Sam…)
Currently using Sun Bum Self Tanning Towelettes

Eat Well
Surprise! What you eat actually has an impact on your face. (You knew that, though). Sweet potatoes, chia seeds, almonds and brown rice are a few foods that promote healthy skin. Food is your medicine and works from the inside out, seriously impressive.

Everyone is different and every skin type is different. Find the formula that works best for YOU. At the end of the day, you’ll know what skincare treatment is working with your skin. Until then, wash your face, eat your veggies + treat yo’self to a mask (c’mon, I know you’re cruising that Target aisle…)

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Lately I’ve been CRAVING a spa day, like a massage, sip fruit infused water, the whole shabang. Problem is I want it ALL THE TIME. Obviously this won’t work with those types of price tags. Hallelujah, we can play pretend at home with three things. Yes, three things to amp up that relaxation.

Grab a few candles, your fav Netflix show, book or tunes and enter your mini escape:

The Brunette Blend-At Home Spa-Like Treatments for Those On a Budget-Pink Tub


Side note. This tub. Heart eyes emoji. House emoji. I want to live here.

Bath Soak

Current favorite: Zoetic Bath Salt Soak | Aurora
Bubbles baths are fun, but after a little car accident and a tumble down the stairs (I know. Wrap me in bubble wrap), I’ve needed something that was a little more productive than cotton candy. I’ve opted for bath salts/soaks, because of all the benefits. The right type can help soothe muscle tension, exfoliate skin, remove toxins + water (buh bye bloat) and can even calm the mind.

Eye Treatment

Current favorite: Miss Spa Restore Brillance Hydrogel Eye Treatment
We’re stepping it up a bit from the classic chilled cucumber and opting for hydrogel eye treatments. These little eye masks contain vitamins A, B, C, and E which helps alleviate signs of puffiness + dark circles. Put an end to the ‘you look tired’ comment, because news flash, you look great.

Lavender Body Lotion

Current favorite: Bath & Body Works Lavender & Sandalwood Body Cream
The scent of this body lotion is SO spa-like and instantly relaxes. We all know I’m loving on essential oils and lavender especially at night. This is the PERFECT lotion to seal in all that moisture and help you chill out. Lavender not your thing? Opt for a warm, soothing scent that you enjoy to relax and unwind.

The Brunette Blend- Three Ways to Create a Mini At Home Spa for Those On a Budget- Flaylat

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature