BGG’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2017

With Christmas less than a month away, it’s time to put your holiday shopping into overdrive.

Still struggling to find the perfect gift for the loved ones on your list? Don’t panic, BGG’s got you covered. From personalized presents to must-have toys, we’ve rounded up the gifts that will make your friends and family shriek with delight.

Try not to keep most of them for yourself!

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IT Cosmetics It Girl Palette
With beautiful packaging and even better quality, your beauty-obsessed BFF will never want to use another brush set again. Available here, $50.

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Personalized Yankee Candle Jar
Want to instantly light up grandma’s face? Give her one of these personalized candles with a family photo—it’s guaranteed to warm her heart and make her home smell scentsational. Available here, prices start at $12.

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The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey
What we know for sure is that Auntie O knows her stuff. Give yourself the gift of wisdom with this book of gems. Available here, $25

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I Need A Baker Sweatshirt
This cozy sweatshirt will make you feel good as ’80s & ’90s R&B. Gift this to the girl in your squad who can’t get enough old school music. Available here, $54

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Disney Pixar Coco Spanish Edition Remember Me Game
Get your little cousins off their gadgets and into this family-friendly game. Similar to bingo, this traditional Loteria game features some of the character’s from Disney Pixar’s new animated film, “Coco,” where each player has a chance at luck. Bring on the fun! Available here, $15

 

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Google Home Mini
Know someone who needs a virtual assistant? Look no further than a smart speaker from the brand who’s been our online answer genie for nearly two decades. Available here, $30

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Bevel Shave System Starter
Guys have fully embraced the scruff and lucky for us ladies, the beard gang isn’t going away anytime soon. Keep your guy’s fuzz groomed with this ultra-luxe starter set. Bonus: It’s black-owned. Available here, $72.

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The Body Shop Strawberry Ultimate Collection
Treat your suds-loving sister to this sweet strawberry set. With a wide range of products included, she’ll be set and smelling good all season long. Available here, $50

The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History

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Score a home-run for the sports fan in your family with this historical, photo-rich tome celebrating one of baseball’s most beloved teams. Available here, $25

 

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Ikuzi Dolls
Not pleased with the doll selections at your local toy store? Ikuzi Dolls to the rescue! These beautiful dolls showcase realistic facial features, hair textures and skin tones celebrating the wide range of BG shades. Your mini-me will beam with pride. Available here, $80.

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Gerber Collection 
Celebrating a new addition to the family? The proud parents on your list will appreciate the quintessential baby getup gift: the onesie. A baby can never have too many. Gerber’s sets will outfit your cuddliest family member in style. Available here, $7.

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Love OPI XOXO Holiday 4pc Set
Nail your niece’s wish list with this eye-catching collection of holiday-inspired polishes. From sultry hues to metallic, she’s sure to find something fitting to keep her fingers fab and flawless. Available here, $15.

 

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Sunbeam Renue Neck Wrap
Your hubby will thank you for this thoughtful gift of healing. Sunbeam’s neck wrap will soothe his achy neck and shoulders while providing a relaxing, comfortable fit. Available here, $50.

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Guess Women’s Gold-Tone Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
Nothing is as timeless as a watch. Sure, our phones may be able to tell us the time, but a classic gold watch will always make a statement. Available here, $125

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Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
Got a Paw Patrol fan in your home? With flashing lights and a removable anchor, this cool and coloful vessel will make him yelp with glee! Available here, $50

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Sugarfina Candy Trunk
The candy lover in your life will flip for this chic trunk filled with gourmet goodies from around the globe. Available here, $195.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Making memories with your child is always high on most parents’ lists. What better way to create a lasting impression than the gift of theater? Treat your tot to a performance of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” based on the classic children’s book of the same name for a fun afternoon in the City at DR2. The experience will stay etched in your mind for years to come. Click here for ticket information.

What are you the most excited about this holiday season?

CVS Pharmacy Removing All Sunscreen Lower Than SPF 15

Summer is almost here, which means even more time to spend out in the sun. Sure, Vitamin D is a good thing, but soaking up rays without the right protection is a no-go.

That’s why CVS Pharmacy’s new Long Live Skin campaign is aiming to increase awareness around skin health and the importance of proper skincare. We brown girls have to do away with the notion that our melanin is enough to safeguard us from harmful UV rays because it’s not. In fact, melanoma tends to be more deadly for us African-Americans according to a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. While the incidence of melanoma is higher in our Caucasian counterparts, we tend to get diagnosed in its later stages leading to the lowest overall survival rate.

That’s why I’m so impressed that CVS Pharmacy is the only national retailer to remove all sun care products with SPF lower than 15 from shelves and has added more than 30 new SPF+/broad spectrum products to sun care sets that either meet or exceed FDA standards. That’s a commendable step in providing consumers with the best information so that they make smart, informed purchases. Plus, the Skin Care Foundation has certified CVS Health brand SPF products with a Seal of Recommendation.

So, go ahead, have fun in the sun, but be sure to spray or lather on the sunscreen!

Below, check out some of CVS Pharmacy’s SPF offerings:

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Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen available here, $11.80

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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen available here, $10

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CVS Pharmacy Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray available here, $9.50

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Promise Organic SPF 30 Coconut Sunscreen Stick available here, $10

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CVS Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion available here, $8.50

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CVS Beach Guard Clear Spray available here, $10

Do you use sunscreen every day? Do you have any fun for the Memorial Day holiday weekend? 

Jane Iredale Launches New Skincare Supplements

Last week, I had the pleasure of celebrating my 37th birthday at a swanky Manhattan hotel.

I was beyond thrilled to start my special day on a foliage-trimmed terrace overflowing with beautiful spring blooms and sunshine gloriously beaming through the glass-enclosed ceiling.

However, the lovely setting wasn’t reserved for me, but for one of my favorite makeup brands: jane iredale.

The premier mineral-based cosmetics line hosted a super chic garden party at the gorgeous Gramercy Park Hotel to showcase its upcoming offerings including five new skincare supplements launching this summer. Each of the supplements promises to treat common skin issues such as: excess oil, aging, dryness, and acne. In addition to highlighting the new products, the event also included a Q&A with founder/CEO Jane Iredale, live demos, and a generous shopping experience for us bloggers and editors.

Being surrounded by nature in the lush space served as the perfect backdrop to launch the natural beauty products developed for a radiant, healthy glow. While I haven’t tried the supplements just yet, I did pick out a cream blush called “Charisma” that has now secured a spot in my springtime beauty routine. The sheer berry hue gives just the right amount of flush to my cheeks, ideal for spring. Plus, unlike powder blushes – a brush isn’t required, which makes for easy on-the-go application. It’s become an instant-fave.

I’ve been using jane iredale products for nearly a decade now. In fact, it was one of the very first brands I partnered with when I launched my blog ten years ago. The quality is unmatched and the range of products for us BGs is outstanding. If you’re looking for makeup that is created to enhance, not mask skin, definitely give jane iredale a try—you won’t be disappointed.

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What are your favorite springtime beauty products? Have you ever tried a skincare/beauty supplement? 

Unilever Fools Beauty Lovers in Epic Campaign Prank

Throughout the years, I’ve witnessed some pretty clever hair and beauty campaigns, but none quite as clever as what the folks at Unilver pulled off yesterday.

Bloggers and editors were invited to an exclusive first-look at a new hair care brand, Evaus, claiming to bring “prestige” beauty and share-worthy strands to the masses. As a BG with natural hair, I was excited to find out what this new line would offer for those of us with curls, kinks and coils.

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Held at one of my favorite hotels in the city, the Crosby Street Hotel—the chic, yet quirky event space was the perfect backdrop for the sleek, minimalistic packaging. Evaus’ modern aesthetic seemed ideal for millennial consumers who seek all-things cool.

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After taking a whiff from one of the bottles, I was sold! I instantly fell in love with the delightful scent of the sweet, citrusy fruits that wafted from the container. Finally pulling myself away from the display samples, I along with the rest of those in attendance were whisked to a screening room where we were shown a video—but it wasn’t what many of us were expecting.

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The clip showcased several bloggers and influencers gushing over Evaus and how its products had transformed their hair. From women with pin-straight hair to cropped natural ‘dos, all were impressed with how this new line made their hair look and feel. However, as the video progressed, it was revealed that “Evaus,” wasn’t a new innovative, high-end brand. In fact, it was a brand they were all familiar with all along.

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Shockingly, we learned that “Evaus” was actually SUAVE (spelled backwards)! The popular drugstore hair care brand had gone undercover to prove the incredible power of label bias. The geniuses at Unilever wanted to drive home the point that price and labels do not have to be indicative of quality. Research shows that 7 in 10 women feel that premium or higher-priced brands and products are more trustworthy than value or lower-priced brands and products, which just isn’t true.

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Suave Honey Infusion Collection is available at drugstores nationwide.

I’ve personally always loved Suave as a brand (drugstore beauty/hair care shopper here!) so I am not surprised by the results the bloggers received after using the brand.

This fun and super creative campaign is one of the most memorable activations I’ve ever seen. I’m proud to say that I’m a #SuaveBeliever!

Watch the brilliant video here:

Are you a victim of judging a product’s quality by its price? Do you use Suave? If so, what’s your favorite product and why?

Dove Continues Its Celebration of ‘Real Beauty’

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of previewing Dove’s latest installment of their longstanding, “Real Beauty” campaign. To celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary and its inspiring message, Dove unveiled a stellar showcase of stunning photographs from renowned photographer Mario Testino.

Held at Affirmation Arts, the New York City-based gallery was filled with 30 gorgeous portraits of women from countries around the world in all their wondrous glory. Testino’s breathtaking photographs captured the true essence of each woman’s real individual beauty. I loved the fact that these women were all different ages and from a wide range of backgrounds. Seeing those striking images evoked a sense of pride and an unspoken bond with all of the women in attendance. It was a powerful afternoon.

Dove is a brand that I admire and respect for their unyielding commitment to celebrating women and inspiring them to embrace their bodies and celebrate their uniqueness. Not only do they promote confidence, their products actually help women feel their best.

I don’t know about you, but when I step outside of the shower and my skin is as soft as silk, I instantly feel good. Their new Deep Moisture Foaming Body Wash does just that. It’s been my go-to for the past few weeks because it’s light and frothy, but still manages to cleanse and moisturize just like its thicker, original body wash. Plus, the pump dispenser automatically makes it a winner—no more failed attempts at squeezing out that last bit! I also love how the scent lingers on my skin after showering. If only they made a body lotion to complement these offerings. (wink)

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Dove Deep Moisture Foaming Body Wash available here, $6

If you’re on the hunt for a new body wash, definitely give this new lightweight foam a try.

Below, take a look at some pics from the showcase.

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Me watching and listening to outtakes from the new campaign that was displayed in a theater-style area of the gallery.

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When do you feel the most beautiful? What does #RealBeauty mean to you?

3 Reasons Why You Need to Add Micellar Water to Your Skincare Routine

If you’re unfamiliar with micellar water, you’re not alone. I’ve found that outside of my fellow beauty editors and bloggers, not many women are familiar with the French toiletry staple.

I remember trying it a few years ago, but it didn’t make its way into my skincare routine—until now. This time I picked up a different brand, Garnier® SKINACTIVE™ Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser. The look and feel of the bottle just screamed purity. I don’t know about you, but there’s something incredibly satisfying and promising about a product that’s completely clear and has the word “water” in its name—I was sold.

After using it daily for a couple of weeks, I noticed that my skin looked clearer, not as oily and was virtually blemish free. I’m now convinced that this “miracle” water is responsible for my newfound fresh-faced look.

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Garnier® SKINACTIVE™ Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser available here, $6.99.

Here are three reasons why you need to make space for this product on your bathroom shelf or toiletry bag.

  1. Easily removes makeup in a single swipe. I’m a huge fan of makeup removing wipes, but most dry out my skin or irritate my eyes. Simply squirt a little micellar water on a cotton pad or ball and viola, stubborn mascara and makeup dissolves and disappears effortlessly.
  2. Works well for oily skin. Since I have super oily skin and am prone to breakouts, I’m always worried that certain formulas will clog my pores. This gentle cleanser purifies my pores and provides a bit of moisture without making it greasy.
  3. Cleanses without overly drying. Even though I have oily skin, sometimes cleansers can strip my skin of its natural oils leaving it tight, which irritates my skin leading to breakouts.

BONUS: It also serves as an awesome makeup brush cleanser!

If you’re looking for a simple cleanser that can remove makeup (even waterproof), won’t clog pores and cleanse without irritation, give micellar water a try!

Have you ever used micellar water? If so, what’s been your experience?

IT Cosmetics’ New Serum Foundation Puts Your Best Face Forward

When it comes to foundation, I’m not the biggest fan. Sure, I have my fair share of blemishes that need to be masked, but concealer has always been my coverage of choice.

That all changed when IT Cosmetics launched its new Confidence in a Compact last month. See, I’ve been obsessed with the brand’s Confidence in a Jar moisturizer for a while now. So, when I heard that they were formulating a foundation that was infused with the moisturizing serum, I had to give it a try.

I’m always stressing the importance of packaging and the vital role it plays in winning me over. Well, IT Cosmetics always delivers in that department. The chic, luxe compact is impeccably designed in a shiny silver case that conveniently holds the makeup sponge on top of the foundation. Plus, unlike most foundations, you don’t have to worry about messy drips or spills because of its sold-to-serum formula.

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Confidence in a Compact™ with SPF 50+ available here, $38 (sold separately).

The scent was the second thing I noticed, it had that same fresh lemony fragrance that I loved from the moisturizer. One of the reasons why I never got into foundations was because of the heavy, cake-y, overly made up look it typically creates, but this one goes on so translucently that it’s like a second skin. The virtually weightless, anti-aging formula can be applied with the accompanying sponge or brush for full coverage. Since I’m still not big on full-face makeup, I do like to blend it with my concealer using my fingertips.

Oh and it keeps skin hydrated without making it greasy or overly shiny (I have super oily skin so I swear by mattifying primers). Available in seven complementary shades, there are four that cater specifically to melanin-rich skin.

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If you’re looking for a convenient foundation to even out your skin tone, definitely get with it – get it? “It” as in IT Cosmetics!

Do you wear foundation on a daily basis or simply for special occasions?