gift guide

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Deal Hunting for Popular Beauty Brands

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Sharing some great beauty finds on sale.

*Scroll down to see details and sale prices of these beauty finds*


I shop at Nordstrom often as the store is known for excellent customer service and flexible return policy.  Also, I find great deals during their sale event, both normal ones and big ones like the Anniversary Sale.  

I do have a Nordstrom credit card, so I am able to have early access to their biggest sale of the year - the Anniversary Sale - where even regular-priced items would be put on sale.  Credit and Debit cardholders have early access to this event, for about a week in advanced of the official start date on 7/22.  There is no additional $ or % off, but cardholders simply get to shop early.

I've combed through the Beauty Exclusives section of the sale and picked out the items below from brands I love and use often.  And they are all under $70!

~ for your body ~

Nordstrom Anniversary Sales Early Access // Kiehl's Creme de Corps


Kiehl’s Jumbo Size Creme de Corps with Pump 33.8oz
Sale $52
After Sale $75

You guys know how much I like this body lotion!  My body stays moisturized for hours after I put it on.  I will be stocking up since this is a true bargain for this luxe item.


Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Kiehl’s Jumbo Size Grapefruit Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser   


Kiehl’s Jumbo Size Grapefruit Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser 33.80z
Sale $33
After Sale $48

My gym provides this body cleanser in the shower stalls.....I love its light soothing scent and my post-shower skin feels nice and soft.  I've been hesitant to invest in my own bottle because I'm not used to buying expensive bodywash, but with this sale, I'm definitely going to buy one!




Note: Both items are eligible for Kiehl's Gift with Purchase offer - Receive deluxe samples of Ultra Facial Cream, Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, Daily Reviving Concentrate & Midnight Recovery Concentrate with $85 Kiehl's purchase.

~ for your home ~

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Diptyque Scented Candle Set (Set of 5 1.2oz Candle)  

Diptyque Scented Candle Set (Set of 5 1.2oz Candle)
Early Access $55

You see Diptyque candles all over Instagram, making it so hard to resist from owning one myself!  However, their candles are very pricey, but with this gift set, it's a great way to sample different scents without breaking the bank.  Do note that these are half the size of the brand's normal standalone candles.

Set includes // Baies: featuring notes of blackcurrant and Bulgarian rose // Figuier: featuring notes of the fig tree // Feu de Bois: featuring woody notes // Roses: featuring notes of tender, changing roses // Tubéreuse: featuring notes of the tuberose flower.

Helpful Comparison for Value // A Diptyque 2.4oz candle is $32 each, so a 1.2oz candle would be around $16, making a set of 5 to be around $90 if purchase each candle separately.

Great Gift Option // This set makes a great housewarming gift.  Or if you're like me and like to put together your own gift set, you can also split up the set and include one candle per personalized gift for your friends (and maybe save one for yourself!).

7/26 Update // This candle set is now sold out.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Voluspa “Maison Blanc” Mini Tin Candle Trio (One-Wick)

Voluspa “Maison Blanc” Mini Tin Candle Trio (One-Wick)
Sale $15.90
After Sale $21

I bought a Voluspa candle (Bellini scent) years ago and have been a fan every since.  They are pricey though, so I save it for special occasions or maybe a stressful day.  I love this trio set not only for the value (see below for "the math"), but also the soft pastel colors.  Similar to the Diptyque set above, this also makes great gifts for your friends.

Trio includes // Pink Citron: ripe citron grapefruit with a juicy pink center, layered with tart cassis and a heart of subtle rose // Laguna: a fresh blend of California verbena and white freesia // Saijo Persimmon: Japanese saijo persimmon, considered to be the finest gourmet variety, is layered with juicy peach and red currant.

    Helpful Comparison for Value // Each two-wick candle is $16.  These mini’s are one-wick (about half), so each would be around $8 , making a set of 3 to be around $24 if purchase each candle separately.

    More Voluspa Options // 1 more mini tin trio and 2 more two-wick tin trios.  Click here to see these.

    * sells another trio set at $25, but it includes different scents. I personally prefer these scents and the soft pastel color of the tins.

    ~ for your face ~

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // Fresh Beauty Ritual Set.   

    Fresh Beauty Ritual Set
    Early Access $57

    You guys know I am a loyal user of Fresh Soy Face Cleanser because of its mild nature and how it doesn't dry up my skin post-cleansing.  This item alone in the 1.7oz version included in this set is $15.  Plus, the set comes with the popular Rose Face Mask along with two other great items.  I think this is an excellent option for those who want to try Fresh for the first time as you'll get a flavor of what this brand is all about.

    Set Includes // Soy Face Cleanser // Sugar Advanced Therapy for Lips // Rose Face Mask // Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream.  All items are small sizes.

    Similar Set at Sephora // "Black Tea SkinCare: Age-Delay Essentials” Set at $94. Also includes the cult faves Soy Face Cleanser + Sugar Advanced Therapy for Lips, but the rest are from their Black Tea line and does not include the Rose Face Mask.

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // GLAMGLOW “Glamazing GRAVITYMUD” Set

    Early Access $69

    I don't think GLAMGLOW needs much introduction!  This set is a good choice for those who want to try the brand's iconic xxxMUD treatment items (set includes full size).  Plus, the set includes a branded application brush and deluxe sample size of 2 other awesome treatments.  The GRAVITYMUD alone is $69, making this a truly great deal.

    Set Includes // GRAVITYMUD Firming Treatment (Full Size) // SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment // THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment // An application brush.

    No similar set at Sephora.

    7/26 Update // This skincare set is now sold out.

    Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access // GLAMGLOW “Glamazing SUPERMUD” Set

    GLAMGLOW “Glamazing SUPERMUD” Set
    Early Access $69

    Similar to the above GLAMGLOW set, this is also a great deal as the SUPERMUD alone is $69.

    Set Includes // SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment (Full Size), FLASHMUD Brightening Treatment // YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment.

    Similar Set at Sephora // “Stay Sexy Clearing” Set ($69).  Includes SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment (Full Size) + SUPERCLEANSE Daily Clearing Cleanser (Small Size). 

    Photos Credits: All images used in this story are from Norstrom website @

    ~ About the Nordstrom Credit Card ~

    I feel the need to say a few words about this - I am seeing many bloggers advocating readers to apply for the Nordstrom card in order to gain early access to this sale.  I don't know how many of them are sponsored by the retailer.  From my retail days (working in the buying office and in the store), retailers always try to convince you to apply for their cards because they make quite a nice profit from interest if balance is not paid in full and it's a way for them to keep your loyalty with them. 

    The only thing I want to share is to do what is suitable for your own financial situation.  I own the card because I do shop at Nordstrom and Norstrom Rack often (have been since I was in college) and I can truly take advantage of their reward program and their sale events.  I wouldn't recommend getting the card just for this sale or just to gain early access to this sale.  Many items would still be there when the sale starts on 7/22.

    Happy Deal Hunting and thanks for stopping by!


      5 Valentine's Day Gifts You Can Enjoy as a Couple

      5 Valentine's Day gifts that work for both him and her.

      Valentine's Day gifts can really burn a hole in our wallets.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think relationships need to be built on gifts, but I'd be lying if I say I don't love little surprises, especially on the most romantic day of the year!  So when my boyfriend and I made a recent purchase that we were both able to use, I had a "light bulb over my head" moment and came up with this unisex version of the Valentine's Day gift guide.

      Valentine's Day gifts for him & her - HoMedics Percussion Action Handheld Massager with Heat

      1. HoMedics® Percussion Action Handheld Massager with Heat  I got this device for my boyfriend's back problem, but I ended up loving it as well!  This helps release muscle tension on his back.  As for me, I use this handheld massager to help alleviate soreness, especially on my legs, from my workout sessions.



      Valentine's Day gifts for him & her: Shaveworks Pearl Souffle Luxurious Shave Cream

      2. Shaveworks™ Pearl Soufflé Luxurious Shave Cream  Even though this is marketed toward women, it is such a good moisturizing shaving cream that it will work for both sex.  And who wouldn't want your partner to have nicely-shaven smooth skin to blow kisses on?  P.S. Read about my 7 shaving tips to get you date-ready.




      Valentine's Day gifts for him & her: Kiehl's Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser in Grapefruit.

      3. Kiehl's Bath & Shower Liquid Body Cleanser in Grapefruit  I am addicted to this body wash thanks to my gym here in Boston.  I shamelessly slather myself in this after every workout and simply take my time in the shower.  What I love about this moisturizing body wash is how light the grapefruit scent is - Precisely why I think this works for both sex as the smell won't be deemed too "girly".  And we're talking about Kiehl's here - It's the best of the best when it comes to body care!

      $25.00 (16.9 oz bottle) 


      Valentine's Day gifts for him & her: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream.

      4. L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream  I am a hoarder of hand cream and L'Occitane is one of my obsessions.  Given the snow storms we've had in the past days (and with more coming), this hand cream will come in handy!  This is the brand's best-selling hand cream ("1 is sold every 3 seconds around the world"), and it will leave you with silky smooth hands.  The scent is very light and works well as a unisex hand cream.  Also, get the 1 0z which is perfect to throw in your and your partner's purse, tote, messenger bag, whatever your travel style is. 

      $12.00 (1 oz tube)


      Valentine's Day gifts for him & her: Hadatuko Daily Protector SPF 40 PA+++.

      5. Hadatuko Daily Protector SFP 30 PA+++  I am passionate about daily, year-round sun protection.  My past work in the sun care category has given me deep understanding of the danger our skin faces when not using sun protection (even on a cloudy day).  So naturally and with love, I enforce a daily sunscreen rule, which my boyfriend happily oblige.  This made-in-Japan sunscreen is great for its non-greasy formula ("too oily" often is the complaint I hear about using facial sunscreen).  A Valentine's Day gift picked with love for your partner's health.  Enough said! 


      Thanks for stopping by and hope you find this unisex gift guide helpful!


      Valentine's Day Gift Guide with Etude House - Part II

      Etude House Beauty. Perfect for Valentine's Day gift ideas.

      Continuing from Sunday post and sharing more of my Etude House favorites for some Valentine's Day gift inspirations...


      Dear My Lips-Talk

      Etude House Dear My Enamel and Dear My Wish Lipsticks.

      The "Dear My" collection has many spinoff's - Enamel, Wish, Blooming, and Jelly.  They all have their signature bling on the tube with either a bow or pink beads.  I was being good and only bought Enamel and Wish. 

      Left to Right:  1) Enamel PK004 "Puzzling Pink"   2) Wish OR202 "Celebrity Wannabe"     3) Wish BE101 "Charming Lady Force".

      Left to Right:  1) Enamel PK004 "Puzzling Pink"   2) Wish OR202 "Celebrity Wannabe"     3) Wish BE101 "Charming Lady Force".

      Color  The Enamel is more sheer than Wish.  Both collections offer a great degree of shine.  You can see the two swatch photos below for comparisons.  Under direct sunlight - PK004 shows up as more sheer;  OR202 is a neon pink upon application;  BE101 looks very dark in the tube and on my arm, but once applied on my lips, it's a nice rose pink.  I think BE101 is my favorite.

      Color swatch: Etude House Dear My Enamel and Dear My Wish Lipsticks

      Texture  As I apply these lipsticks , it feels as if they melt onto my lips.  PK004 and BE101 go on smoothly and the colors blend into my lips effortlessly.  OR202 requires some extra work - The neon pink color stands out against my natural lip color, so in order to make it look nice and smooth, I prep my lips with Vaseline lip first and I use my fingers to even out the color.  For a more precise look, I'd recommend using a lip brush. 

      Color swatch: Etude House Dear My Enamel and Dear My Wish Lipsticks

      Staying Power  The colors transfer quite a bit to the rim of my coffee mug.  However, there is enough color stain that even after a full meal, there's still color on my lips.

      Price & Where to Buy  I paid 9,500 won/USD $7.94.  Etude House U.S. website carries both Enamel and Wish at $12.40 per tube.  For other Dear My's, go here


      Color In Liquid Lips

      Etude House Color In Liquid Lips

      Korean beauty brands are just so good at creating interesting package design and that makes using their products so much fun.  When the saleswoman showed me these tubes, I shook my head because I thought these were lipsticks and I already had the three Dear My in my basket.  But then she opened these up and, whoa-la, these are actually liquid lips! 

      Inside the tube:  Etude House Color In Liquid Lips

      Color  These liquid lips have very vibrant colors.  PK006 "Always In Pink" (left) looks normal pink in the tube and on the applicator, but once applied onto the lips, it looks more neon pink.  As for BE101 "Beige in Caramel" (right), it looks very beige in the tube and on the applicator, and once applied, it looks more like mauve pink.  See the two swatch photos below showing the colors on my arm and on my lips.

      Color swatch: Etude House Color In Liquid Lips

      Texture  The liquid lips add a great deal of shine and feel good on my lips for the first 20 minutes or so.  After a while, my lips start to feel dry.  It's not terribly dry, but I can definitely feel them tightening a bit and resort to applying some lip balm.  I think it will be a good idea to prep your lips with Vaseline Lip and then apply these babies.  I find the drying effect to be pretty common among liquid lip products, so it's not just isolated to Etude House. 

      Color swatch: Etude House Color In Liquid Lips

      Application  I soon realize the applicator picks up too much product and keeps pushing the excess product beyond my lip line.  For everyday causal use, I recommend using your fingers to continue spreading and also gently pressing the product onto your lips.  For more precise application, it's best to use a lip brush.  

      Staying Power  The colors transfer quite a bit to the rim of my coffee mug.  As a result, expect the initial shine to be gone as soon as you starting eating and drinking.  However, there is enough color stain that, despite this transferring, the color stays on for a long time.

      Price & Where to Buy  I paid 9,500 won/USD $7.94.  Etude House U.S. website sells them for $12.40 each.   


      My Castle Hand Cream

      Etude House My Castle Hand Cream

      Admittedly, this was an impulse purchase.  I was at the cash register and found out I was just one item shy of hitting the minimum needed to get two of their gifts with purchase.  I looked within close proximity and these hand creams were within my reach.

      Etude House My Castle Hand Cream - Inside look of the cream texture.
      Etude House My Castle Hand Cream - Close up look of the texture on my arm.

      Scent I bought "Pink Wish", which is described on Etude House website as "fruity floral" scent.  What I am smelling is indeed some floral fragrance, but surprisingly, I'm also smelling something that reminds me of men's cologne.  I'd say this hand cream scent is not my favorite because of that, but I still love this cute castle design. 

      Texture I dip my fingers into the small opening and was surprised to feel the super thick consistency.  I turn the castle upside down and the cream stays in place.  That's how thick this is.  It does absorbs quickly on my skin.

      Etude House My Castle Hand Cream - The background story of Etti the Cat.

      Little Etti  I almost missed this part, but on the side of the packaging, in really small print, there is the backstory on My Little Castle series.  It's about a cat named Etti who lives in the Pink Castle.  Etti the cat grants beauty wishes to girls with warm and kind hearts, and they know their wishes are coming true when Etti's soft white fur turns pink.  I know I'm a grown woman and all, but this little story just adds even more cuteness to the pink castle!

      Price & Where to Buy  I can't remember how much I paid in won.  Etude House U.S. website carries this collection at $7.80 per scent.  However, they are currently out of stock.

      And the free samples are just as exciting as the actual purchases themselves.  The Etude House crew is super generous this time!  But I am the most excited about that Magic Any Cushion in the middle - It's actually a power bank!

      Etude House free samples.


      Hope you've enjoyed this Valentine's Day gift guide! 
      What's on your V-Day wishlist?


      Valentine's Day Gift Guide with Etude House - Part I

      Sharing my Korean skincare finds at Etude House in Seoul, South Korea.

      I feel like we've just celebrated New Year, but tomorrow already marks the first day of the most romantic month of the year!  There are so many special Valentine's Day gifts from every beauty brand, but I have to say, using Etude House makes me feel like everyday is Valentine's Day with its pink and red packaging.  This week, I am rounding up some of my favorites that would make great Valentine's Day gifts, whether you're looking for something to treat yourself, gift to girlfriends, or spice up your special dates.


      Eau de Perfume

      Etude House Eau de Perfume

      Confession - I made my selections based on the names for these perfume.  I have my forever-love-affair with Estee Lauder Pleasure, but thought it'd be nice to switch things up every now and then.  And these are wonderful scents and the cute bottles and packaging will definitely make a nice decorating piece on any vanity. 

      Scent (From left to right)

      Love Me Forever  This is my favorite as it has a clean floral smell that's not too intense.  Etude House's description says "freesia and sweet peach", but I can't really smell those specifically.  Good for everyday use.  

      Fresh Me Up  This is the lightest scent of the 4.  It is a citron-based scent with some leafy-green smell mixed in.  Good for everyday use. 

      Before You Go  This one has a strong floral along with fruity smell.  I usually like floral scent a lot, but this perfume is a bit too strong for me.  I say good for special occasions because of that. 

      Take Me  This scent is ultra seductive.  It has a hint of vanilla mixed in with floral.  The bold red high-heel on the front says it all!  Perfect for adding some sexiness.

      Collective bottles that make for great decor on your vanity.

      Long-Lasting  I usually spray perfume one time on each of these areas: Upper chest, upper back, and both wrists.  These perfumes have long-lasting scents that stay throughout the day.

      Price & Where to Buy   I paid 11,500 won/USD $9.55 at the Etude House store in Seoul.  I also saw them at the Hong Kong store.  However, this collection is not available on Etude House U.S. website.  Selected scents are available on eBay and Amazon, with prices ranging from USD $13.54 to $21.00. 


      Sweet Recipe Cupcakes All Over Color

      Etude House Sweet Cupcakes All Over Color

      When you see these cute "cupcakes" in person, it's truly impossible to resist them!  I know the colors would be too muted for some, but I'm happy to be just looking at them on my vanity.

      Etude House Sweet Recipe Cupcakes All Over Color

      Collectible Tins  I still cannot get over how cute these cupcake tins are.  I think these make great gifts both for yourself and your girlfriends.  I am also looking forward to when I use up the balm, so that I can re-use these tins as earrings and rings holder! 

      Scent  I try very hard to distinguish the four scents, but at the end, they all smell very similar to me - A sweet fruity scent.  There is a difference in the intensity though.  Raspberry Mousse Cake definitely is the sharpest while the other three are a little lighter and on par with each other.  See photos below for the names of each balm.

      Texture  Imagine a softer version of a balm.  If you add even slight pressure to your finger as you dip into the pod, your finger will sink right into the content.  As you can see in the Raspberry Mousse Cake pod that I had a little accident when I first opened the lid. Oops! 

      Color & Usage  The colors look pretty intense in the pod and also on the initial scoop.  Once blended in though, they become much more muted.  Note that the swatches on my arm were the result of me applying multiple times until the colors show up in the photo.  I think this works well as a lip balm and natural-looking blush, but maybe too light for your eyes. 

      Price & Where to Buy  I paid 6,500 won/USD $5.40.  It's not available on Etude House U.S. website, but I did see them at the Hong Kong store.  Amazon also has selected colors, with prices ranging from $2.98 to $7.15.  Keep in mind that shipping charge could cost more than the cupcake itself.


      Dreaming Swan Eye & Cheek

      Etude House Dreaming Swan Eye & Cheek

      Part of the Dreaming Swan collection, this silky primer powder can be used on eyes and cheeks.  It is said to have a blurring effect that smooths out skin and what caught my eyes is the romantic design and the illustrations. 


      Kerrie Hess, Australian fashion illustrator who has worked for Chanel, Louis, Vutton, Lancome Paris.

      Collaboration  The illustration on this collection is done as a collaboration with someone I love and admire (and follow on IG) - Kerrie Hess, an illustrator from Australia who has worked on projects with designer powerhouses like Chanel and Louis Vuitton.  Find her on IGand you will see her amazing work.  Her work is ultra romantic and chic, and that is definitely showing through the packaging of this Etude House collection. 


      Etude House Dreaming Swan Eye & Cheek

      Swan Lake  The beloved ballet serves as the backdrop for Dreaming Swan.  When I open the lid, another element of surprise awaits me - An image of a ballerina embossed on the surface of the primer powder.  Absolutely beautiful.  I am not sure if I can ever bring myself to deface such gorgeous design.

      Color swatch: Etude House Dreaming Swan Eye & Cheek

      Color /Effect   This powder has an ultra light pink shade with shimmer.  In the swatch photo: A - In order to show some color, I am using a q-tip to pick up more product than normal, press hard on my skin and repeat multiple times.  B - With normal application using a blush brush, an extremely light/almost invisible pink with shimmer can be seen.  The intent of this product is to enhance skin tone, so the ultra light shade is totally acceptable.  

      Price & Where to Buy  I paid 13,000 won/USD $10.80.  Etude House U.S. website (Currently out of stock) and Amazon carry this item, ranging from $13.94 to $15.60.

      Hope you've enjoyed this edition of Valentine's Day gift guide!  I'll be sharing more of my Etude House favorites later this week, so be sure to check back in later. 
      What's on your Valentine's Day wishlist?