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.

IMG_7690.jpg

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!

D2FC1B5A-D5D0-4797-BBBA-C3EA4537663B.JPG

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.

Advertisements

What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.

IMG_1374

Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.

IMG_1439

I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.

IMG_1440

BANGS

Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.

IMG_1437

What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.

IMG_1416

For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR

Stress, Bad Habits, and Olivia Palermo

I have been a worrier since I was a little girl.

When I would find myself under stress as a young child, I remember wrapping my arms around myself and repeating, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.”  I constantly talked to myself as a child and performed what felt like little play therapy rituals with toys and dolls; there are still traces of this in me today and it always seems to revolve around hair.  As odd as it may sound, playing with hair is very soothing for me whether it’s my own or someone else’s.

But worry has followed me elsewhere.  My 5th grade teacher once placed a ban on me from approaching her desk and asking her what my grade was; I’d been asking her every day for at least a month after being somewhat traumatized by my first D on a long division math assignment.  I would constantly wonder what my grades were or if I was suddenly failing.  I would do the same with friends; in preschool I incessantly asked my friends if they really liked me, to the point where some of them started to say they didn’t anymore.

In middle school, things got a little weirder when I started picking at myself.  When worry or fear would crowd into my mind, I would pick furiously at my legs, at all the little ingrown hairs.  The picking would leave these all these red bumps, making it look like I’d been attacked by mosquitoes.  In my early college years, I started picking at my hair.  I’d find dry hair strands with broken ends, and I’d snap them off.  I’ve been known to pull at my eyebrows and eyelashes too, especially at my old job where things could get really fast-paced and surprisingly stressful.

A lot of this may sound alarming, but believe it or not, many of these behaviors are very normal and I’ve been working on replacing them with other things like reading a passage, prayer, finding something little to do that I enjoy, and so on.  Obviously the behaviors spike during times of greater anxiety, but in my personal case they can be controlled with a little help and attention.  These things I deal with are more situationally triggered than compulsive problems that really need no trigger.

Please note though that some people struggle with extreme, compulsive versions of these behaviors such as trichotillomania in the case of hair pulling, which is defined as a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out body hair (not just picking off dead ends in a fit of nerves, but literally pulling out entire patches of hair in a single episode).  Those who suffer from this disorder frequently find themselves with bald patches, or lose all their eyebrows or eyelashes from all the pulling.  Trichotillomania is overwhelming and debilitating.  It requires the help of medical and psychiatric professionals and isn’t merely a symptom of general anxiety; it is a major problem within itself.  I do not suffer from this disorder, but Olivia Munn apparently does.

However, one minor physical manifestation of anxiety that I’ve always struggled with has been biting my nails.

I have always, always been a nail biter.  I bite my nails alone, out to dinner, at work, in the movies, and around friends.  I bite my nails everywhere.  And there has never been a really effective strategy for getting me to stop.  My dad once pulled out his microscope and had me place my nails under it to show me how filthy they were (because everyone’s nails are).  And they were filthy.  And I kept biting.  In college, I once got asked out on a date by a guy in one of my classes; I declined (as I had a boyfriend), we laughed it off on friendly terms, and he said, “Awww. Okay. But hey, you should really stop biting your nails”.  And then he hopped away on his skateboard.

With all the transition that the first half of 2015 brought, you can imagine that all the worrying, picking, and biting came to a fever pitch.  Luckily I had cut my hair off in April so picking at dead ends was not much of a problem.  However, by July, I basically had no nails.  They’d turned into tiny little nubs that began to hurt whenever you’d try to bite them again.  It had to stop, or at least for a little while so I wouldn’t risk giving myself some random infection and so it didn’t sting every time I used soap when I washed my hands.  Enough was enough.

And so I motivated myself to stop biting my nails the only proper way I knew how- by buying a bottle of nail polish designed by Olivia Palermo.

I’ve been awkwardly obsessed with Olivia since seeing her on The City, and even though our styles actually aren’t that similar, I’m a sucker for nearly anything she puts her name to.  So when she debuted three bottles of nail polish for Ciate London this summer after being named their guest creative director for 2015, I felt I might have a solution to my problem.

So that last week of July was my final week of nail biting.  Every time I’d bring my fingers to my mouth, I’d remember that gorgeous bottle of brilliant red polish waiting for me and how badly I wanted a professional manicure for the first time in years (and how I’d paid for that polish and I’d better use it). Moreover, the August and September issues were out, and seeing all the beautiful nail trends had me even more motivated to prep my own nails for the season.

I’m delighted to say that the strategy worked!  And now I get to deal with the annoying upkeep of filing my nails so they don’t tear and then (gasp) snag my hair as I run my fingers through it.  But seriously, I had my first manicure about two weeks ago and wow- my hands had never looked so pretty!  I think I’m used to having nubby little troll hands, so I was extra pleased with how feminine and soft they looked.  The color is Olivia Palermo for Ciate London in Hutch.

IMG_1044

During the times that I’ve kept away from biting for a few weeks, I actually have enjoyed painting my own nails even if it doesn’t happen too often.  I prefer either nudes (as pictured below), or solid, classic colors for impact such as black, white, or a true red like my Palermo polish.  I always do nude on my toes when I go in for the rare pedicure because it actually can make your legs look longer.  I also love a matte topcoat; Butter London makes a good one.  I can also handle a bit of glitter around the holidays; I like chunkier glitter for impact.

What I don’t care for are brights, pinks, acrylics (I’m terrified), French tips, or any elaborate nail art beyond a simple, minimal design like these black tips.  I also don’t like nails to be too long, unless you go for the full Rihanna/Lady Gaga talon look, in which case I’d still go all black but it would probably mean getting acrylics which, again, terrifies me.  This would be about as “talon” as I’d go.  For the most part, I tend to prefer a hybrid square-oval shape (or “soft square” as the manicurist called it).

My favorite colors have come from the drugstore.  Sally Hansen’s Complete Salon Manicure lasts well over a week for me, and she’s had some amazing milky neutral colors that are so modern and flattering.  I wore the second polish from the left on my wedding day; it’s called Malt.  From the left, the others are Pumice, Honeywhip, and Bandage.

IMG_1115

Now that I have my nails back, I know I need to work hard to A) keep them in shape without spending money and B) control my anxious thoughts so I don’t bite them!  This should be a good exercise in seeing the smaller fruits of turning over my thoughts daily, and remembering I can be thankful and have joy instead of giving in to temporary anxiety and destroying new growth in the process.  If you struggle with anxious thoughts, remember that filling your head with worries robs you of too many things- your energy, your joy, your peace … your nails.  You aren’t meant to live that way.  xo, MR