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

There is no flowery way to word this, but stress sucks. There is no way around that.

The past few weeks have been a giant headache, a massive zit and a running mind. I’ve been juggling multiple things, on the go and kind of put myself on the back burner. I forgot to relax, give myself a break, BREATHE.

It feels like a few extra hours in the day are needed.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
– Sydney J. Harris

The pity-party for us ends now. We are all so capable of handling dates on our calendar, projects, time with family + friends. We just need to make time for ourselves so we don’t combust.

Favorite Ways to Decompress from Stress

1. Make sure the house is CLEAN. I feel even more tension when my space is cluttered. Taking a few minutes to clean and organize my space calms me down and mimics how I want my mind to feel. Light a candle (my current favorite) and let your new atmosphere take you away.

2. Stress usually results in a breakout or two, so taking care of your skin is KEY. (Plus, it can be relaxing!) I love a mask or a scrub paired with a your favorite face lotion to care for skin and symbolically wipe away the stresses of the day. A fresh face always makes me feel a bit better.

3. Essential oils like lavender and chamomile are proven to relax your body and mind with its scent. I’m either diffusing lavender or spraying my pillow with a mix of lavender and chamomile (favorite spray) Pair it with fresh sheets and deep breaths and you’re set.

4. This is obviously the biggest and most obvious, workout. This will help physically release stress. I swear by The Barre Code workouts for me to alleviate stress and bump up endorphins. I joined a little before the new year and I always come back in a better mood and with a clearer head.

5. Recently, I have found that cooking relaxes me. The smells and the process of putting things together to create something is comforting and requires me to unplug. I also try to play music that matches the cuisine. Like traditional Italian music when I’m making stuffed shells or an amazing white spinach pizza. I pretty much play classical jams when I cook anything.

There you have it. My favorite ways to combat stress. I’m definitely doing a 20-minute mask tonight in my CLEAN house. We’re grilling tonight, so no Italian music.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

I’ve got a little something for you today (keep reading). When it comes to clothing lately, I’ve been purchasing a lot of pieces from boutiques + small businesses. The biggest draw is the uniqueness of the pieces you’ll find. The bonus is that you’re supporting go-getters like yourself.

The Brunette Blend- Boho Chic Style with Blooms & Linen- checkered tie shirt

wearing the checkered twist button tank

Its no secret I have the BIGGEST crush on Blooms & Linen, an amazing boutique in Zionsville, Indiana that has an ONLINE STORE— so everyone gets to enjoy! I’ll be the first to tell you, I NEVER leave empty handed. Their pieces are classic, trendy, fun and truly have a style. The owners choose items they love to wear and they are FASHIONABLE (I want their closets and their sense of style). Plus, I think they’re both really cool.

Blooms & Linen and I want to give you a little reason to go shopping today. A 30% off store-wide code.

Get WHATEVER you WANT for 30% off with code “samantha30”.

To give you a little inspiration, here are a few pieces I have and/or currently eyeing:

Embroidered Pin Ruffled Dress

The Brunette Blend- Boho Chic Style with Blooms & Linen- ruffled dress

Dusty Floral Keyhole Pom Blouse

The Brunette Blend- Boho Chic Style with Blooms & Linen- dusty floral top

Blush Eyelet Spring Dress

The Brunette Blend- Boho Chic Style with Blooms & Linen- pink eyelet dress

Mosaic Open Should Slit Maxi

The Brunette Blend- Boho Chic Style with Blooms & Linen- OTS maxi

See one you like? GO GET IT WITH THE CODE 🙂

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

Knits are my thing. Fall and winter are my favorite fashion seasons, because it means chunky sweaters. Spring and summer fashion just brought a whole new game and its SLEEVELESS.

The Brunette Blend-Knits Are Back For Warmer Months-Samantha

Could the sleeveless knit be replacing the denim button down? …maybe

We found this one at Loft and trust me, I’m living in it. The style is classic and extremely versatile. There is nothing better than something that can easily transition from day to night, from 9-5 to happy hour.

This is definitely a piece you’ll want to add to your wardrobe (looking at you, fresh grads!) If there is one thing I’ve learned about freshening up wardrobes postgrad, it’s go for the traditional pieces that have a fun twist and can be worn in variations. Can it be paired with jeans, dress pants, maybe even a skirt? Ding, ding! There’s a winner. 

This piece is coming in HOT, so linked below are similar styles for all budgets.

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

Face
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.

Eyes
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.

Cheeks
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.

The Brunette Blend-WHAT’S UP WITH UNDER EYES + HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR EYE MASKS-Collagen Eye Masks

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

Who else stares at a closet full of clothes and states that they have nothing to wear? I KNOW IT ISN’T JUST ME! However, it isn’t the best option to constantly be filling your cart with new pieces. Bummer, I know. There are a few ‘shopping rules’ I’ve been implementing lately that have made me feel fashionable and less like I’m blowing through money.

Easy ways for affordable style.

The Brunette Blend-Fresh Style Without Constantly Swiping Your Card-thredUp Style

Separate + Store. Separate your colder month clothes from you warmer month clothes. I’m not kidding this tip is so simple and easy, its AWESOME. When you separate your clothes and store over the seasons, you tend to forget what you have and its like a whole new wardrobe.

Resale Shop. Clothing is PRICEY especially if you’re eyeing name brands (hello, Kate Spade!) Thrifting usually takes some time and multiple trips. I came across a new site called thredUP and let me tell you, I’m HOOKED. I got a gently used Zara top for…wait for it…13 BUCKS! They have a ton of items at great prices.

Mix n’ Match Old + New. Always think of your closet when you’re shopping. Chances are you have at least two things you can pair your new item with. Plus, I think you get to be more creative! Personally, I think some of the best #OOTD come from mix n’ matched pieces.

The Brunette Blend-Fresh Style Without Constantly Swiping Your Card- thredUP Zara Top

The Brunette Blend - Nine to Five Style - Target Style - Get the Look

Shirt from thredUP (Stalk HERE) | Jeans (you know I live for Eddie Bauer jeans) | Pumps (Similar)

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