What I’m Using: October 2019

One of the losses you experience moving back to the West Coast from the Midwest is the deeply-felt absence of a true autumn. There isn’t much color change unless you head to the mountains, and the weather doesn’t give you that crisp brightness you long for while being basic and sipping a hot toddy.

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised during this first fall week here. The weather has shifted, and perhaps it’s because I’m by the sea, but both my husband and I have walked out the door the past couple days only to head back in to grab a second layer. There’s even been rain. The jarring couple weeks skyrocketing back into the 90-degree weather are sure to come (and the dreaded Santa Ana winds with them- haven’t felt those in years) but in the meantime, I’m thinking positively and adjusting my routine with it. Here’s what I’m using this month.

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The early AM luxury- Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

I’m on the whole “eye cream is a scam” team, mostly because I believe if a cream is good for your face then it’s good for your eye area. However, I can’t deny that eye cream is such a yummy, simple ritual for my early mornings that I’ve so come to appreciate. Tapping just the tiniest bit of this creamy treatment on my lower lids and the area below it feels soothing and luxurious at 6AM. This particular cream is very brightening and adds a touch of sparkle to your inner eye area, too.

The anti-aging powerhouse – Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

A couple years ago I purchased a retinol oil from The Ordinary. I figured I’d give up my so-so Neutrogena retinol serum for the acclaimed budget brand and start my true foray into vitamin A territory. However, I managed to choose the oil with the least amount of active ingredient in it and saw little to no results (other than just being a nice, hydrating face oil- squalane is not a bad choice). And over the summer, it managed to spill open during the move. Oh well, it was only about eight dollars including shipping anyhow. It was time to move on to bigger and better things.

And so, with a Sephora gift card in hand along with the VIB sale, I pulled the trigger on something not budget-friendly- Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni Retinol Cream. This was an upgrade to say the least. The deal with this product is to use it along with your simplest skincare routine (no additional actives- it’s intense and you may feel the tingles!). The weird thing about it is the next day, my skin just looks nice.- nothing crazy But then, about a day after that, I will either have a couple whiteheads or I’ll peel a bit. But just trust the process. And then the day after that, my skin looks really, really nice. Like airbrushed nice. I’m using it once a week and the payoff is seriously worth the dime.

The classic – MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Highlight Powder in Soft and Gentle

Highlighting is one of those things that jumped to the front of the line about five years ago, with lines like Fenty, Becca, and any name imaginable trying to outdo one another with their most over-the-top versions they can dream up. Liquid, cream, powder, megawatt glitter finish or just a touch of shine … there’s a highlighter for everyone including your grandma. But while I do love glitter and shimmer and have always stopped to swatch Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick at Sephora, some highlighters are a little too extra for me (see Fenty Diamond Bomb). MAC’s Skinfinish powder is just enough to give your cheekbones that noticeable pop without making you look like a disco ball- it’s a classic, in-the-middle amount of highlight. I “windshield wiper” it on with my highlighter brush just on the top of my cheekbones.

The I’m-bored-with-Dove option – L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil

There are two shower cleansers that I use: the original Dove Deep Moisture and Glossier Body Hero. I can only tolerate the most moisturizing of body washes because it turns out that I am driest person on Earth, particularly my legs. My legs are scaly and sand paper-y, so much so that they make that sand paper-y noise when they rub together. It’s pretty much all Dove all the time, and about every three months I’ll throw in a round of Body Hero because it makes your boring showers feel expensive. This past summer, however, I used L’Occitane’s almond oil while staying at someone else’s home and knew I’d have to buy it for myself. It has the same oil-to-milk texture that the Glossier has but it with a rich, sweeter fragrance. I would probably only go for two bottles a year because it’s not a fragrance I’d enjoy all year long, but it’s a great switch-up for the season.

Bonus! The absolute best fall candle on a budget – Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp Apple scented candle

While I’m all about celebrating the transition into autumn, I’m not keen on super-sweet candles (i.e. pumpkin pie). I still want fall to feel fresh and clean, and overly saccharine fragrances give me a sort of closed-in feel that doesn’t relax me. My solution to this problem is the Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp Apple candle. It’s a paraben-free soy blend that costs just four dollars. And it is the most unbelievably crisp, perfect apple scent that doesn’t cross out of sophisticated territory into cloying Country Apple (if you know, you know). For the price, I blaze through about one of these a week starting on the first day of fall, completely guilt-free.

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What I’m Using: An AM Routine

The last four years in Illinois really enabled me to think through the little things that make me, me. What do I like and don’t like? What kind of routine am I currently capable of, and what kind of routine do I wish I could have? How healthy am I, and what could make me healthier? It was all sort of laid bare before me. We’ve only been back in California for two months but we’ve jumped head-first into an extremely busy season. And my routines have shifted dramatically, partly out of obligation and partly because I think I’m just healthier. My job has me starting work at 7AM, but I see a lot of faces each day and need to look more presentable than not. I also have a kitten that practically tries to murder me once the lights turn on and she gets in the room, so once I’m up, I am up. Whereas in years past a 5:50am alarm would’ve been a real struggle, I’m managing to make something out of the half hour of consciousness I’ve got before driving to work.

If I’m lucky, I’ve gotten up early enough to quickly rinse. I’m a night shower-er but if I can throw myself under some water in the AM I feel my absolute best and most awake. It’s not necessary to me, but going to work feeling totally clean is the best. It’s the ultimate feeling of preparedness. I’ll cleanse with Glossier Milky Jelly and spritz on a Lush toner while my face is still wet. I wait for that to dry a bit and pat on some of Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Essence- very expensive but I hate to say it, I think it’s making the biggest long-term difference in my skin. I’ll wait for makeup after that and not add any more skincare layers. Otherwise my face feels too moist and I feel like I’m sweating.

Makeup is fast in the morning. I put a bit of NARS Creamy Radiant concealer on my undereyes and on the inner corners of my eyes, along the sides of the bridge of my nose where it’s always really dark. I call those the little “caves” of your eyes- they get so dark and that’s the key spot to brightening them. I also put some under my nostrils and a tiny bit around my lips where things are discolored. I blend that all out with my fingers and maybe add some BareMinerals Complexion Rescue around the rest of my face. If you like that dewy, glowy look, this is the stuff for you. Or instead I just blend out some Glossier Stretch concealer where it’s needed. I go by the KatieJane Hughes method and treat that stuff like a solid tinted moisturizer.

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Eyeshadow is typically something I skip because I get too ambitious too quickly with it, but if I have two minutes I’ll buff out a couple creamy, sparkly brown shadows with a cream shadow brush. I love Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze mixed with Trish McEvoy’s cream shadow stick in Topaz. They’re really pretty blended out together all around the eye. I’ve also just tried the crystal-infused eyeshadow from Victoria Beckham’s new line in Mink and it’s crazy sparkly and flattering. Basically anything brown or bronze with sparkle works. The mascara that packs the fastest punch is Flower Beauty’s Warrior Princess one. I’ll use CoverGirl Clump Crusher to separate and define a bit, but the Flower one gives all the impact. And I never use eyeliner in the morning. That requires like, three products for it to be perfect.

Blush is either a cooler pink or a warmer shade, which then determines my lip color because we can’t have things clashing too much. NARS Exhibit A gives the most impact with the least amount of product. Anyone else weird about using only the least amount of product possible? I feel like I’m trying not to run out of things but then I end up with makeup that’s three years old and still looks unused. It’s like a weird compulsion of mine.  But anyways, I could pick literally any blush and I’ll be happy with it. My lips usually end up with Glossier Generation G lipstick in Cake or Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus. I like Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution lipstick in Very Victoria, too. I prefer lips without much shine for everyday. Gloss is a such a look to me.

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If I have any more time left I’ll add highlight with MAC’s Mineralize powder in Soft and Gentle and maybe some contour with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light palette. I’ve had this angled brush from Sonia Kashuk forever that absolutely perfect for contouring. It’s old and there’s nothing like it.

Oh and almost forgot- eyebrows. If I leave the house without any other makeup on, it’s fine- but my brows are always fixed up. I use Maybelline’s Brow Drama crayon to fill in any sparse spots and set them with Glossier Boy Brow. I don’t pluck them, I don’t do anything to them other that.

Beyond all this I just add perfume. That and eyebrows are the essentials for me. There’s something humanizing about perfume; it makes you feel like you have a personality and perspective. Everyone says things like, “That’s a mood” or “That’s a vibe” but my mind always wants to say, “That’s a perspective.” I have several different roller balls so I just sort of choose what suits me that day, but nothing too powerful. I’m finishing off My Burberry Black right now and just bought a bottle of Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. It’s sweet but very warm.

If you’re interested in seeing the full look put together, my July post features a selfie. But be aware- my hair is also done, which really doesn’t happen on weekday mornings. That would require something like a 5:15am alarm, and we all know that’ll never happen. xo, MR

We Need To Talk About Perfume

Fragrance is a peculiarly emotional thing for me. I weirdly feel like my identity is tied up in the fragrance I wear, so I can’t just choose something that “smells good.” I have to choose one that feels as if it fits both my personality as I am and the kind of person I fantasize myself to be- mysterious, layered, not consuming jalapeño Cheetos late at night at age thirty-two.

But finding a fragrance that both fills me with a feeling of  wonder and relatability, of “beyondness” and a sense of grounding, of myself and very much not myself, is difficult. Identifying a smell that is both aspirational and cozy – two words that I often need to feel  if I am to love it – is a challenge. And what makes things more complicated is after finishing a particularly excellent scent, I’m not interested in just purchasing the same one over again. I want to find something new. There are too many options out there in fragrance, and there’s always something unexpected emerging. The right, new fragrance can seem to open up an unexplored cavern in your imagination, a possibility or way of sensing the world previously unknown to you. And once that perfect, unexpected combination of notes hits your olfactory system, you’re addicted.

So the problem for me arises during the turning of fall and spring, when the latest fragrances make their debut. I have an itch for something new! This August, there are a couple in particular that have grabbed my attention: Lancome Idolê, Yvés Saint Laurent Libre, and Azzaro Wanted Girl.

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Idolê is beautiful, with a lightly sweet and very feminine air to it. It smells like optimism! But for how wearable it is, I can’t quite identify with it. I love the ambassador for Idolê – Zendaya – but I can’t quite relate with her in an intimate, fragrance-type way because of 1. her age and 2. her HBO show, Euphoria. I’ve not heard great things content-wise, other than what I’ve heard about the makeup. It’s funny how much the face of a fragrance will affect me. It’s the same as when I smell Dolce & Gabbana The Only One and love it, but can’t quite pull the trigger on the purchase because its ambassador is Emilia Clarke, and I can’t identify with her most known work in Game of Thrones. While smelling Idolê, I asked the lady at the Lancôme counter if she thought the fragrance was too young for me (she insisted not), mostly because I wonder if Zendaya is too young for me? Who knows. And the bottle is gorgeous, but it does evoke the feeling of a phone in your hand. You can definitely tell what generation they’re targeting.

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I have a different issue when experiencing Yvés Saint Laurent Libre. The bottle itself is stunning, a true work of art that anyone would love to display on their counter with its over-the-top glamour. The fragrance itself is sophisticated and luxurious. It smells like wealth, like something a Bond Girl would wear. However, Libre is a little too much on the aspirational side for my taste. I think I’d feel like a fraud if I wore it regularly. There’s certainly a depth and mystery to Libre, but it’s missing the approachability I need to feel comfortable wearing it every day. It feels more meant for a night out at Marché Moderne and less for work days at churches and schools where I often find myself.

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Azzaro Wanted Girl is the sweetest, most easily likable of the three fragrances. It’s juicy and warm (dulce de leche!), with a coziness that I always crave in perfume. However, I feel like I’ve done this fragrance before when I wore Lancôme La Vie est Belle for three years. I loved the warmth and tranquility that perfume brought to my mind – I’d wear it again, even with the obnoxiously sparkly commercials with very shiny Julia Roberts teeth – but buying a new fragrance with a similar feel doesn’t sit right. While I often have an urge to repeat fragrance purchases, the call of the undiscovered is too strong for me.

And so, what do I wear this fall? What will feel new, but what will also feel like me? What will smell sophisticated, but somehow friendly too? Well, this go-round I’ve managed to do something I’ve never done before- I’ve purchased a fragrance sight unseen, or moreover, smell unsmelled. Yes, I’ve made an online purchase that I’ve not sampled or smelled before. How on EARTH, in my world of extreme preparedness, did this manage to happen?

A Google rabbit trail lead me to discover Jeremy Fragrance, an award-winning German YouTuber who thrives on reviewing fragrances of all kinds. I’m sure I’m late to the party but WOW- the content is GOOD, y’all. You wouldn’t imagine a YouTube channel about fragrance to be particularly intriguing – I mean you can’t exactly “participate” – but somehow Jeremy takes you there. His uber- classy German accent, combined with an impeccably tailored wardrobe and perfectly-rolled R’s, make for the greatest listening experience next to hearing Mary Berry praise a lovely bake. Seriously, listen to him say “Carolina Herrera.” It’s unreal.

So upon discovering his channel several days ago, I watched Jeremy’s video ago titled “Top 10 Most Seductive Perfumes for Women Romantic Date Night Fragrances 2019”. Bit of an awkward mouthful there but hey, I was curious. I listened to him describe a range of scents – all veering on the sweeter side – that he perceived as sexy and seductive. Now, I’m pretty sure no matter what fragrance I’m wearing, I’ll still cross my eyes too much in conversation and emanate more Liz Lemon vibes than Kate Beckinsale vibes, but anyone can agree they’d still like to smell like Kate Beckinsale even if they can’t look like her. And so, I chose to take maybe the biggest gamble of my life and purchase the number-one fragrance on Jeremy’s list without smelling it first (because it’s literally sold nowhere so I had no way to smell without buying): Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. Apparently it makes Jeremy want to “smash [his] head into a wall.” I mean that’s a little violent but ok! I had never heard of it but as the youths say …….. “Yolo.”  I am all about a good recommendation and this one was so off-the-wall confident that I thought, you know what, this is what I’ll buy.

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The (um gorgeous?!) bottle arrived just less than an hour ago on my doorstep. And yes, the scent is good. Very good. I have to give it a bit to feel like me, but wow- I am excited about this. The description provides the following: “Addictive Cocoa Absolute pulses at the heart of BOSS THE SCENT PRIVATE ACCORD For Her. The freshness of Sweet Mandarin and captivating Osmanthus contrast with warm Tonka, for an irresistible Eau de Parfum that seduces the senses.” I can confirm it is indeed like a mandarin orange dipped in chocolate. Aspirational? Yes, decently. Approachable? Definitely, maybe too much. Sweet? Yes. Mysterious? My guess is yes. But suited for me? We’ll have to wait and see.

What are you wearing this fall? I want to know! xo, MR

 

 

What I’m Using: August 2019

Wow. WOW. I can’t even believe I’m remembering to write this post, as this has been one of the wildest, longest-and-shortest months of my life. It was only one month ago yesterday that we hit the road for our new home in California, and with this month has come a cross-country road trip, a week of training in Texas, a new apartment, a new job (not counting my husband’s new job, too), a new church, an upcoming pet adoption, and just all the general weirdness that any transition brings. And a four-hour trip to the DMV …

July was all about being on the road and sticking with travel-friendly products, but August has been more about adapting to a new climate and tweaking skin and hair routines accordingly. My new job will also involve early mornings, which means easy, impactful makeup that I can count on in a rush will be key. Here’s what I’ve been relying on (so far) this month:

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The air dry that actually looks good: Virtue The One For All 6-In-1 Styler

Literally all air-dry stylers I’ve tried have simply air-dried my hair with mild, uneven wave and a lesser amount of frizz than usual. Big whoop. They’ve never left my hair with uniform waves or texture that’s made me feel like I can actually walk out the door without heat styling. Virtue’s 6-In-1 Styler is the first- I mean THEE FIRST – air-dry product that actually works for me. But it doesn’t leave me with waves … it leaves me with curls! So fun! I’ll work a dime-size amount into wet hair and it doesn’t matter if I leave it down or up after that; there’s basically no frizz, and lovely curls are easily coaxed out with just a little scrunching. Or who knows, maybe it’s the sea air I live near now.

The instant awake: NARS Blush in Exhibit A

I’ve used this blush for years on brides and more “intense” makeup looks on myself, but what NARS Exhibit A really is is the most underrated tool for natural makeup. Being so outrageously bright on first look, you would expect a blush like this to be anything but subtle, but just a tap actually provides the most gentle, complexion-brightening warmth that makes you look lit from within. It complements any skin tone and almost works as a bronzer in that it gives that kind of “lift” to the skin. Something like this is perfect for when your complexion looks dull and tired, and it looks awesome with the extra bit of color all this sunshine has given my face!

The easiest sunscreen on Earth: Sun Bum Sunscreen Face Stick SPF 30

The thing with me and sunscreen is that I hate it. I don’t know why or how not even a Glossier sunscreen can make me diligent about it, but sunscreen just feels like the biggest inconvenience in the world. And I know it’s easy to say that until you have melanoma, so I get it, but good heavens I have got to find a formula that doesn’t make me whine like a four-year-old.

And honestly? I think this may be it. And why? Because it’s in stick form! Duh! This is the most throw-in-your-bag, no-brainer formula that just swipes on clear. No white cast, no tapping it around with your fingers. Just wash your face, add your toner and essence, swipe this on, and add makeup if you like. Plus, it smells a little like banana, which is nice and vacation-y.

The recovery mode serum: Peach and Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten out as much as I did in July. Between fast food on the road, constant restaurant visits during training, and having to grab takeout frequently as we filled our fridge, I managed to really stuff myself full of chicken fingers all across America. Top that with stress and sleeping on all varieties of scratchy pillowcases that aren’t yours, and you’ve got breakouts. I got a couple of those giant zits that charitably refuse to fully surface, but mostly it was tiny little bumps all across my cheeks and jawline- tons of ’em. Mostly, my skin just felt totally rough and uneven to the touch and if I picked at any of it, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

This Peach and Lily serum gets lots of Instagram buzz and has great reviews, but when I used it back in the spring, it didn’t do much for my skin. In fact, it seemed to cause breakouts whenever I used it. Out here, however, its combination of skin-clearing niacinamide, peptides, and inflammation-reducing extracts like East Asian mountain yam have seemed to do the job during this odd season for my skin. The results seem more like what the product claims- excellent hydration and visibly calmer skin, with cleared breakouts! I’m also no longer on a diet of chicken fingers, so, there’s that too.

Bonus! My July makeup selfies

I managed to really do my makeup (as in taking twenty minutes, starting post-shower with a skincare routine) about three times in July. I used a few of the products mentioned in this post and the previous one, but of course there were others added. I went with the same general look each time: a bronze-y smokey eye, a peachy cheek, and a nude lip. I also managed to find decent lighting to capture it each time 🙂 The second one has no filter, while the other two have about forty percent of a filter.

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What I’m Using: July 2019

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a Dallas hotel bar two days into a week of training for my husband’s new job. Last week consisted of a cross-country drive alongside Route 66 from Chicago to our new home in Orange County, CA. And over the weekend, we received the keys to our new apartment before flying back out to Dallas. I’m not sure which time zone I’ve been sleeping in lately, I’ve gone from humid to dry and back again all within less than a week, and my skin has been breaking out in little bumps like crazy (pretty sure my pores are super clogged from fast-food cheeseburgers and hotel pillows). But, I’ve managed skin and hair and a small makeup routine regardless of being on the road in Missouri, wandering around in Santa Fe, or meeting new folks in Dallas. It’s been pretty fun, and here’s what I’ve been using:

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Flower Beauty Warrior Princess Mascara

So, a few months ago I discovered L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara. Flower Beauty’s Warrior Princess is their answer to that formula, but it’s even better. I tried it alone when I used it for the first time and let me tell you, when I can get my lashes the way I want them with just onemascara, that is the strongest seal of approval I can give you. It’s phenomenal. My lashes are thick, way longer, and inky black (“royal black” is the shade’s name, in fact) with just a couple coats. I think it’s actually sped up my routine because I’m confident enough to use it by itself when finishing my eye makeup- I don’t feel the need to use two or three different kinds, which is kind of a thing with me.

Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Shadow and Liner stick in Topaz

I walked into my local BlueMercury store in Illinois a final time before departing the state, and a lovely woman named Magda working for Trish McEvoy asked if she could play around with my makeup. I let her know I really couldn’t purchase much, but I figured it couldn’t be a bad way to spend twenty minutes if I was clear enough about that. She used one of their new shadow and liner sticks by applying it all over my lid, then buffing it out with a cream shadow brush, and lastly lining my eyes with it for extra definition. The formula is extra creamy, almost gel-like. She used a smoky, not-too-warm shade of brown called Topaz. I don’t know what it is about shimmery brown shadows but I probably have a million of them, and I had to have this one too. I used it frequently during our road trip because it was soeasy and gave such nice sparkle. I especially love blending it with Maybelline’s Bad to the Bronze cream shadow on my lid (that’s another good one).

Glossier Stretch Concealer

I did not give this concealer its proper attention for far too long. I’ve often favored a longer-lasting, slightly more heavy duty concealer, and while that works for my more “makeup-y” days, Glossier’s Stretch is such a good formula for the lighter, dewier looks I wear more frequently. What’s more is that I’ve been using it the KatieJane Hughes way lately- treating it as a solid tinted moisturizer by using it all over my face in spots that need a bit of coverage, and foregoing foundation altogether. On summer days when my complexion is looking even and luminous, I’ll just buff out a bit of Stretch in discolored spots and call it a day. Another great hack for road trips!

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

This is a no-brainer, but stretching out my hair between washes has been quite the necessity this past month. So many of my hair products are packed away and I’ve had to carefully choose which ones to keep in my suitcase (not enormous, least likely to spill open). And at times, digging through my stuff to get to my curling iron or flat iron has been such a pain that I’ve just given up and thrown everything up in a sad bun. Fortunately, I managed to grab a travel sized bottle of Living Proof’s dry shampoo to keep my hair in good shape when I have put in the effort to wash, dry, and wave it.

Anything you’ve been using on the road this summer, or even just on vacation? Let me know, but I’m not gonna lie- I can’t wait to unpack my stuff in August and get back to using my regular stuff! xo, MR

What I’m Using: May/June 2019

This past month and the next few will probably be some of the busiest of my life featuring a cross-country drive, some hard good-byes, a new apartment, a new (well, old) state, and a new job (at least for my husband). So, to think about beauty is an opportunity for grounding and practicing small rituals of normalcy. I’ve been traveling a lot and will continue to this summer, so much of what I’m using these days is tiny! Let’s see what we’ve got here.

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The travel essence: Origins Mega Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion

I can’t carry my whole beloved bottle of Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Essence with me when I travel, but this sample bottle of essence from Origins is so calming and soothing. It’s been the perfect substitute. My skin feels so soft and even after using it; I sometimes forget to apply moisturizer after because my skin feels so hydrated. And a huge bonus- the full-size bottle is $34, which is something like half the price of the Fresh essence. I may have to switch over to this after I finish the Fresh; the Origins seems to have similar effects on my skin for half the cost.

The travel conditioner: Virtue Recovery Conditioner

Whoa. Okay, so I typically just carry Bumble and Bumble’s Thickening line with me when I travel. This time, I decided to switch things up and bring along a little travel size of Virtue’s Recovery conditioner. This has won the occasional award in a magazine or blog, but it’s only carried online or in BlueMercury boutiques (really going to miss those when I leave Chicagoland). I tried it before my recent hair trim – when my hair might be feeling a bit dry – and ooooookkkkkaayyy. My hair felt so, so, so soft and even seemed to air dry better and with more definition (I have wavy hair). Grabbing the full-size bottle before I move this July! Oh and also, it smells like vacation. Trust me.

The tool saving my hairline from sweat: Sephora Collection Alligator Jaw Clips

When I do makeup, I sweat. And the other person tends to sweat too. And it’s always at the most inconvenient of places- the hairline. Not good for your foundation, and not good for maintaining a dry hairline (here come those cowlicks!). Enter these lil’ alligators. I’ll place a couple around the hairline to keep hair out of the way while doing makeup. They’re super lightweight and won’t put a bend in your hair over time, too. No more scrounging for bobby pins and hoping they won’t put a kink in your hair while doing makeup!

The thing I’m not sure I need but it works: Caudalie Beauty Elixir

So, apparently this stuff is good for setting makeup, tightening the appearance of pores, and giving skin an instant boost of radiance, but aren’t there so many other products made specifically for all the aforementioned needs? And I have them all, too! But there’s something very satisfying and very French about haphazardly misting Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir everywhere like it’s this magic stuff that takes things to the next level. I’m not sure if it does, but I love it. Ways I use it: mist my own face with it if my skincare has completely absorbed before doing makeup (because I like my skin to be just slightly damp when I apply makeup), spray my BeautyBlender with it before applying foundation, and mist myself and my clients with it upon finishing their makeup as this totally frivolous and unnecessary final step. It’s a thing!

Bonus! The movie that’ll make you wanna roundhouse-kick your mirror: John Wick 3 – Parabellum

There are four movies that have made me want to work out and get in the best shape of my life: Creed II, 300, Edge of Tomorrow (every time we see Emily Blunt doing that same vinyasa), and now, incredibly, John Wick 3. We only ever see Keanu in a suit so it’s not really about the “shape” he’s in, but the martial arts sequences are so utterly astounding that they had me shrieking in the theatre. The choreography and sheer stamina involved in those scenes was so inspiring, particularly for the supporting actors (who are, no doubt, highly-trained professional martial artists). I left the theatre wanting to destroy things and it felt AWESOME.

What I’m Using: April 2019

Well we’ve gotten almost five inches of snowfall today, Tiger has had the comeback of the century (so far), there’s some show with its final season or something debuting tonight, and a little influencer music festival is wrapping up its first weekend somewhere in a desert, far, far away. I’d say this has been a pretty swingin’ April so far! It’s been a good month for beauty, too, with a fresh haircut, nail growth, and lots of other good stuff.

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The new take on nighttime moisture: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

My sis-in-law gave me this Korean sleeping mask as a gift, and it’s light enough for a springtime moisture treatment but still packs a serious punch. My skin is definitely plump and glowy the morning after using it, but the one catch is you’ve got to rinse it off when you wake up. The mask is pretty much fully absorbed after I sleep, but I went one day without rinsing off my face and there was a little bit of pilling that I could feel around mid-morning. So that said, be sure to rinse your face off after using! The scent is very relaxing and perfect for a nighttime product, and I love that it’s a gel-cream. Such a luxurious texture!

The eye makeup extra that’s just different enough: Glossier Play Colorslide technogel eye pencil in Disaster Class

As soon as I got a look at the shade range of these new Glossier Play liners, I knew this was the color for me. It’s this perfect, shimmer-free wine color that’s just different enough from brown or black to accent my eyes in a special way; it’s the easiest way to feel like I’ve actually “done” my makeup. Also key: these liners grip and slide super easily. There’s no tugging at your eyelid or skidding. Can’t wait to pair some Lemonhead Spacepaste in Mulholland with this eyeliner! I’m wearing Disaster Class here, along with my new hair chop!

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The unexpected drugstore win: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara

I’ve never had luck with L’Oreal mascaras, ever. I could never do the Voluminous stuff, and I could never do Maybelline Great Lash either. Cult formulas have never taken well to my lashes (until they met the CoverGirl Lash Blast line). But my mom tried a tube of the Lash Paradise and wasn’t a fan so she handed it over to me. I figured I wouldn’t care for it much, but I was pleasantly proven wrong! Good consistency, not too liquid-y, great brush, builds really well (most important in my book), and not much smudge. I tend to still use two mascaras at a time but the fact that I’ll be including this as one of them is a pretty strong vote of confidence. To this day, the only mascaras I’ve repurchased are a couple of the CoverGirl Lash Blast, and BeneFit’s They’re Real! That’s it. Thrilled to find another winner at long last.

The healer: Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil

I can tell you the exact date I started biting my nails again- Sunday October 7, 2018. Around lunchtime, in fact! My husband and I had a conversation that day that ushered in a season of transition; it was clear that change was on the horizon, but what that would look like was entirely undetermined. And my go-to, super productive method for dealing with change and anxiety is the always reliable exercise of praying meditating sleeping trusting hard core nail biting.

I bit my nails for a solid six months beginning that day, down to the painful point where there’s just nothing left to bite. There was no stopping me. But once plans for the future officially fell into place around March, I felt free and excited to start the process of growth again. I’ve been using this cuticle oil to condition my nail beds and nourish them into healthy growth. Plus, it smells amazing. I’ll just brush a little bit on to my cuticles while I’m watching T.V. Within less than two weeks my nails were long enough to paint.

Bonus! The best green juice smoothie to welcome official spring weather: The Hippie Chic from True Juice

These blended juices from a little place up the street from my work cost almost ten dollars with tip, so they’re a major splurge. However, they’re undeniably delectable. My favorite one for warm weather is the Hippie Chic, and I think I’ve memorized the ingredients: kale, lime, pineapple, mint, coconut water, banana, and hemp seeds. The mint and lime give it that whole mojito vibe that’s as refreshing as an actual mojito on a sunny, happy hour patio.

What I’m Using: March 2019

First day of spring! It’s a strange day when 50 degrees becomes what feels like barbecue and tanning weather. The sun’s been peaking out the past week or so here in Chicagoland, even though you still see the occasional snowdrift on the ground and there won’t be a flower in sight for three more weeks yet. In terms of beauty, this seems to translate into something more exciting and celebratory- more color, a new scent, and that whole idea of “feel good” beauty. It may not look like spring yet, but we can certainly pretend.

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The reputable classic: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate

This stuff is expensive, it really is. I’ve only ever purchased the mini size and I use a pea-size amount only once or twice a week to make it last. But … it works. This is the first chemical exfoliant I ever used and I can’t ever go back. The glow and difference in texture was noticeable pretty much right out of the shower. I should note that my skin doesn’t appear to be especially sensitive to chemical exfoliants (as in, my face doesn’t experience redness when I do AHAs and BHAs), so just beware if you decide to try it that you may react differently. I keep ExfoliKate in my routine during fall, winter, and spring and kick it out once summer hits and my skin isn’t so dry. So for now, it’s like my little spring cleaning routine.

The totally-unnecessary-but-super-fun extra: Glossier Play Glitter Geleé & Detailer Duo (Geleé in Phantasm)

Okay, this is just for fun. But it’s like, really fun. I used to wear glitter constantly in middle school. Every day I had a different color on- I did green, gold, red, anything. I love Stila’s Glitter and Glow liquid eyeshadow in Smokey Storm these days for some grownup glitter that can be subtle (or not!), but Glossier’s take on glitter is not for the faint of heart. It’s the chunkier stuff that’s really full-on craft store mode, and the Phantasm shade reminds of a the holographic Rainbow Fish. However, I especially love the Detailer tool Glossier has created for applying glitter- a silicone multitool that’s shaped like an angled eyeliner brush. It’s one of the things I’m surprised no one’s thought of before; it makes glitter application way easier, especially if you want to be really precise.

I’ve tested out the glitter once and plan to wear it on our quick vacation this weekend in Michigan. Because, you know, if there’s any place you think of when you think of wearing glitter for a night out, it’s for sure Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The luxurious shower addition: Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash

Another great Whole Foods sale find! While typically something like $12, I got it on sale for $8. And because it’s a smaller bottle, I use less of this body wash at a time than when I use, say, Dove, and unnecessarily squeeze out a giant blob because I feel like I have an endless supply. This formula is lighter than Dove but almost just as moisturizing (and much more natural). The smell is soooo relaxing too. There’s also primrose, pomegranate, and lavender for those extra sleepy night showers.

The fragrance I’ve been saving for spring: NEST Indigo Rollerball

Nothing – nothing, I tell you! – can usher in a new season like a new fragrance. But I have to be careful when I introduce a new perfume into my life because scents become so emotional, so quickly. You immediately start associating it with whatever memories you make while wearing it, so choose its debut activity carefully! I love several of NEST’s fragrances, and Indigo is mysterious and alluring. My nose always latches on to tea-based fragrances and this has a top note of Moroccan tea that’s creamy and a little mystifying to me. I love its moodiness; I just have to make sure it doesn’t make me feel too moody myself. :/

Bonus! The convenience you’ve been missing in your life: ClassPass

My friend introduced me to ClassPass with a $9 trial and I have to say, Kristin! Thank you! ClassPass is a service that allows you to pay a certain monthly fee that then gives you access to all varieties of fitness studios in your area. You can pick and choose what classes and studios you’d like to visit; there’s no commitment to one location or one type of fitness. I personally use it for yoga and have loved the freedom of being able to try different studios. Tried a class that’s a little too voodoo mama juju? Go somewhere else. Love one particular place? You can stick with it. Want a trial month? Get at my link: http://class.ps/maiA0

Best of the 2019 Academy Awards

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Wow. Wow! Color! Ruffles! Sequins! Feathers! A sea of pastels! Big risk taking tonight! I’m so impressed! This was one of the better Oscars red carpets in a long while and I’m loving most everything I’m seeing, simply for the fact that everyone jumped on board the fashion train or did something different, even if it didn’t quite pay off (I wasn’t into Charlize’s look for the time in ages, but it’s not like she looks bad because she’s still Charlize). There were a lot of “Why Not?!” moments and I’m living for it.

A note: I feel like the lighting must’ve been bad on the red carpet arrivals this year because most of the photos I’ve found either appear to be too dark and in the shadows, or overly bright and washed out. I don’t edit the photos I find (and I always credit at the bottom, by the way), so know the color and texture of the gowns may not be popping quite as much.

Here we go:

Gemma Chan in Valentino

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A girl’s fantasy. I mean, really. Everybody say it with me … And it has pOcKeTs! I love how Gemma and Michelle Yeoh have spared relatively no ounce of glamour- none. Also, can you imagine how comfortable this dress probably is? No skintight thing you have to wiggle in; which, is a great look in itself, but if you have the choice, by all means go with the massive hot pink sundress that you can hide snacks or a small child in. Makeup by Monika Blunder, hair by Clariss Anya Rubinestein.

Rachel Weisz in Givenchy Couture

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Get weird! Get bright red patent leather mini-cape weird! I found an up-close detail shot of the floral appliqués on Rachel’s dress and it looks beautiful, like a real work of art. The headband with the cape and color lends a sort of Red Riding Hood vibe to the look, and I can’t say I hate it. I’m also just super into Rachel’s hair and makeup lately. Her dark hair color with her brows is such a striking combination and a great makeup canvas. She’s what I like to think I look like when I’m in a really good mood and have just exfoliated or something. Makeup by Kay Montano, hair by Mark Townsend.

Yalitza Aparicio in Rodarte

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Newcomer of the year here! What a beauty, and what a perfect and memorable choice as your first big ceremony dress. I’d started eyeing Yalitza a few months ago when Roma began making the rounds at different festivals and I was like ope … she’s going to be a thing. I wasn’t wrong. And I love a good seafoam green, man- especially when styled with her hair like a shiny, crystal black sheet. Whew. Makeup by Carissa Ferreri, hair by Matilde Campos.

Emma Stone in Louis Vuitton

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Alright so I keep hoping for more color on this gal, but brown– or bronze? copper? – was at least a highly unexpected choice. It suits Emma’s hair and complexion beautifully. And the graphic eye makeup is like, thee thing this year. Lucy Boynton’s had graphic liner all but tattooed on her eyelids this season but I prefer a smokier look using color like we see on Emma. Also, I’m so ready for the bold shoulder looks circa Balenciaga 2008 to come back? The more Judy Jetson, the better. Makeup by Rachel Goodwin, hair by Mara Roszak.

Regina King in Oscar de la Renta

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She’s already won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as I write this, but what a perfect look to win in- classically glamorous, looking like the absolute best version of yourself. Which one of us wouldn’t mind wearing this and looking like this? I love a white gown, too; I find white gowns almost more alluring and elegant than black because there’s a striking modernity to them that black can’t quite capture. And Regina’s hair is the haircut of the era- we’ll remember the midlength bob as the definitive cut of the 2000-teens. Makeup by Ashunta Sheriff, hair by Angela Parrantes.

Linda Cardellini in Christian Siriano

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I screamed when I first saw this and yelled, “THANK YOU!” This is your grand “Why Not?!” moment. I feel like “best dressed” and “worst dressed” lists aren’t even relevant here because you clearly don’t care about that- you’re in it for the fun. If it’s available to you, why not wear something this insane? Why not wear something this over the top? Who cares if you look like a cake or an exploding ribbon factory or whatever stuff people will say. You obviously know you’re not exactly going to be able to hide when you walk out in this, so own it. I love it. Also, that bun with the long center-part bangs is just the cutest. Makeup by Hinako, hair by Dave Stanwell.

And … because apparently someone had to be fashionably late and did NOT walk the red carpet … here’s a bootleg shot of Lupita Nyong’O, who surely will make my official list once the full gown appears because FEATHERS DUH:

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Alright now go off: Which were your faves? Who did you miss? LMK! xo, MR

Image credits in order of appearance: Steve Granitz/WireImage, Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock, Getty Images, Steve Granitz/WireImage, Getty Images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Dan MacMedan-USA TODAY, Instagram @lupitanyongo