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

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

What I’m Using: February 2019

So it turns out, by happy accident, all the selected items I’m using this month are clean. But what do I mean by clean? Three of the four products I’m listing here can be found at Whole Foods, so we’ll start with their own Body Care Quality Standards linked here. The other product I’ve chosen is categorized as Clean at Sephora™, which, according to their site, means it’s formulated without the following: Sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban.

Do I have time to explain how I know each of these aforementioned ingredients are harmful, and in what quantities, over what length of time? Nope. Would I want to even if I did have the time? Nope. You get to do the work on that. I just get to talk about the stuff I like.

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The everyday lipstick: Kosas Weightless Lip Color in Rosewater

I kept hearing about this brand around the Gram and on IntoTheGloss, and so I hopped over to their Sephora page to look at their oft-praised lipsticks. Lo and behold, there’s a cute lil video that explains how each shade (a seemingly perfect, approachable and ultra-flattering range of just eight) is meant to fit into your beauty wardrobe. And since I’m a sucker for the whole “your lips but better” thing, I went with the first lipstick described- Rosewater. It’s a cool-toned pink nude described as being the lightest of the bunch and kind of like your favorite t-shirt. I’m very familiar with the favorite t-shirt situation because, as my friends can attest, I’ve been wearing the same Bane t-shirt for about seven years now.

The formula is incredibly moisturizing and it’s so natural and wearable that I can treat it like a balm. I’m already eyeing Undone as a potential new addition once I run out of something else.

The obligation: Evanhealy Lavender Facial Tonic Hydrosoul

So I ran out of my Aveda toner and decided to pursue a much greener replacement. And you thought Aveda was green! Did you know Aveda is owned by Esteé Lauder?! And that since that ownership has taken place, that Aveda’s typically “green” character has very much changed? Don’t get me wrong- Aveda’s Dry Remedy line will probably be an on-and-off staple of mine for life (so long as they don’t change the formula, which they’ve made a habit of doing lately), but when I foolishly picked up a bottle of their new Cherry Almond shampoo a couple months ago without first looking at the ingredients, I was so disappointed to find it full of sulfates and all kinds of other ingredients typical of cheap drugstore shampoos.

But none of this really has anything to do with the Evanhealy toner. I’d eyed these Evanhealy “tonic hydrosoul” formulas at Whole Foods but never managed to smell the lavender one. I used an Amazon gift card to make this purchase from home one night and while I originally wanted the rose one, it was out of stock. Lavender is an ingredient I’ve used before and my skin has taken well to it, so I pulled the trigger. The reviews didn’t mention anything odd, though one girl said it smelled “more like vanilla.”

I have never smelled a nastier smell in all of skincare. I nearly gagged. This stuff smells like old milk. Get excited about the exclusively USDA organic lavender all you want- the stuff smells like garbage. And in case you haven’t gotten truly angry at a hypocrite today … I’m continuing to use it here and there. What?! Just because something smells funky to you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad product! But truthfully, I’m continuing to use it because I wasted half a gift card on this and I now feel obligated as I can’t send it back. As to whether it’s effective or not, well, it’s toner. You pretty much don’t need it anyways. Hooray for that “green” Aveda replacement.

The secret to amazing foundation: Weleda Skin Food

About ten years ago in a fit of hypervigilance, I started “greening” over my entire face and hair routines. I read about three books, researched questionable ingredients for the ones most commonly agreed to be harmful, and scoured natural grocery stores in southern California for the best that natural beauty had to offer. It was around this time that I discovered Weleda Skin Food, an extremely rich moisturizer with a thick base of oils and beeswax meant as a cure-all for dry skin. I couldn’t imagine slathering the stuff on regularly (a little goes a really long way), but what did make sense was mixing it with makeup. Or at the very least, applying and massaging in a thin layer before applying foundation.

I had the fortune of doing a good amount of bridal makeup in my late twenties, and Skin Food was a staple on wedding days. It’s the perfect tool for giving a long-lasting glow under makeup, and everyone’s skin seems to take to it so well. I kind of forgot about Skin Food for a couple years as I experimented with other things, but I picked up a tube last month on Amazon and mixed it with a Lancome Teint Idole stick foundation for this look. How I’d missed the stuff! Oh also, I’m wearing the Kosas Rosewater here!

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The intoxicating fragrance: Nubian Heritage Goat’s Milk and Chai Body Lotion

This is another Whole Foods find I discovered via IntoTheGloss. Putting on lotion is one of the most boring things on Earth to me. You’d think something like data entry would be the height of tedium, not putting on lotion. But for whatever reason, if I have to put it on, I’ve got either do one of those in-shower lotion situations so it can be over quickly, or I’ve got to find a lotion I really love using.

Enter Nubian Heritage. Whenever I’m in Whole Foods I’ll always browse the body care section for anything that looks new and interesting, but lotion’s not typically one of those things. Very natural lotion formulas tend to separate and get messy or not moisturize as well as a couple drugstore lotions I’ve tried (yep- sorry), so I wasn’t sure how effective this stuff would be. But the smell!! Oh, the smell. The Goat’s Milk and Chai version of this lotion smells like … believe it or not … Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb. You know, probably the world’s best-selling perfume that they pump through the vents at the Crystals shops in Las Vegas? I cover my legs in this lotion and it leaves the most pleasant dry-down on my blankets and sheets. And, what do you know, it’s moisturizes like a pro.

Bonus! The midcentury jazz icon you need to know: Wes Montgomery

You know how you’d be walking around a department store as a kid, listening to that jazz guitar “elevator” music in the background that you thought was cheesy at the time and had no appreciation for? Turns out Wes Montgomery- a sound I know I would’ve written off as “elevator” during childhood- is the moodiest mood of moods, and it’s a sound you could use in your life. If you have no clue where to start, just look up “Bumpin’ on Sunset” on Youtube or something. And because you’ll be hooked from there, you can head straight to Wes Montgomery on Spotify and let him gently accompany you on whatever task is at hand: cooking dinner, folding laundry, writing this post, sitting staring out a window, yelling at your kids, anything. It’ll work.

What I’m Using: January 2019

I hadn’t planned on creating this post but the 2019 Polar Vortex practically made me do it. And when I think about it, it’s been a month of heavy product usage in order to combat dryness among other things, so it’s worth sharing!

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The dry skin saver: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

I’m just about out of this stuff, and it’s been a huge lifesaver for my skin in near sub-zero January temps. While currently out of stock (will probably be replenished in February), Priming Moisturizer Rich is maybe one of the best recommendations I can give for those in need of a serious grandma-style face cream. It lives up to its name: it’s incredibly rich, and my skin just drinks it up at night and still feels soft and supple in the morning. It’s got a wee bit of lavender oil in it so ensure you don’t have sensitivities to it before using.

The new launch: Kristin Ess In-Shower Gloss

This woman’s line of hair products, tools, and accessories at Target is like catnip for me. Her products look and feel professional (she is, after all, a celeb hairstylist), but they come at little more than $15 a pop and address a wide range of needs and styling desires. She deliver things like bubbling scalp masks, similar to Bumble and Bumble’s Scalp Detox, for half the price of legacy brands. Her latest launch- the In-Shower Gloss- was an easy pick-up for me (especially as an indoors activity idea on a frigid day). I chose Chocolate Cosmo to add some overall shine and warmth to my midlengths and ends as my color’s fairly grown out. Loved the results!

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The glow giver: Sephora Pro Angled Blush #49

I’m not entirely sure how others do it, but I can’t seem to apply blush without an angled brush. I have to have that angle for everything. I use an angled brush for contouring, bronzer, and highlighter too. This one in particular I’ve been loving for blush. Tip: Don’t “sweep” or “swipe” on your blush as that can leave a streaky, harsh look on the face. I like to tap on my blush while smiling (smile big!) so the apples of my cheeks are really prominent, where you flush naturally.

The yummy excuse for a double cleanse: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

I was gifted this by a friend and wow– this stuff is all the motivation I need to put on makeup, just so I can take it off. It melts from a solid balm in a jar to an oily cleanser in your hands, and removes virtually all makeup. And according to Sephora’s Clean Seal, it has less than one percent of synthetic ingredients. Oh aaaand it smells like heaven. I like to do a double cleanse with this and Glossier Milky Jelly for a yummy, extra moisturizing experience.

Bonus! The winter cabin fever fix: Yoga with Adriene’s “Yoga for a Dull Moment”

Adriene’s yoga videos are comforting year round (the sleepy time ones! the ones for stress!), but I love a 15-minute little pick-me-up that I can do in my living room even when I’m just having a moment of boredom. Going through one of her routines feels so much better than doing a random bunch of jumping jacks just to get my blood pumping. I still end my Adriene with some sweat, but also feeling stretched and content.