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.

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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.

What I’m Using: December 2018

It’s December! It’s party season! Aren’t you so excited?! All the dressing up, all the food, all the calendared events, all the traveling, all the extraverting, all the schedule maneuvering, all the multiple-party-consulting … oh wait. Maybe you want to hide under a blanket for a month. With a bag over your head. While wearing earplugs. In a cave.

Well, no matter what kind of mood you’re in this season, you must be sure to indulge in our generation’s latest coping mechanism for existential dread some “self care” to ensure that your makeup is properly on fleek and your skin is properly slaying and your hair is properly on point. NO PROBLEM.

But seriously have fun. Getting ready for parties is fun. Here’s what I’m using this month to help.

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The new skincare staple: Honest Beauty Organic Facial Oil

New fave ritual- Wash face, spray on toner, maybe add essence, and finish with this face oil (particularly if I’m prepping for makeup). It’s THEE BEST if you’re in a colder and/or drier climate. There’s something very assuring about patting an oil on to your face that you know won’t just be cheaply absorbed in four seconds flat. Also, this one is yummy because it’s actually USDA-certified organic and not just like “Oh I’m natural and kinda green I swear!” like so many products out there. Hydrating, luxurious, and completely clean- oooohh.

The thing that made an actual difference: Ouai Memory Mist

I frequently wash my hair in the evening. I’ll let it air-dry while watching the billionth episode of Forensic Files late at night but unless I want it to look like the rabid child of Jane and Tarzan the next morning, I have to be sure to put some waves in it that evening with a curling iron. However, I used to run into the problem of putting those waves in my hair at night only to have them go wonky and flat after a night’s sleep (which, is an obvious and very first-world problem). Enter Ouai Memory Mist, which not only claims to protect hair against extreme heat but also to maintain its texture and shape from whence you styled it (‘whence’ … very likely I’m misusing the term).

Well, I’ve used the Memory Mist about six times now and it actually works. I spray it on my hair in sections and then find that my hair really does look relatively the same the next morning. Not an easy thing to pull of, especially after a night’s sleep. In the past there has always been need for touch-ups the morning after waving my hair, but maybe four out of the six times I’ve used this stuff, I’ve just shaken my hair a bit and walked out the door. Wild.

The use-for-every-color liner: Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Liner in Toast

In November and December, I have a stereotypical tendency to do more lip-forward looks with a wine- or red-hued lip. However, I’ve never liked using red liner with red lipstick because few things drive me crazier than that lipstick fading and leaving behind a weird red outline. Makes me feel clowny and like I’m some Edward Scissorhands extra. This lip liner is not only cheap, but it’s also a peachy nude that will do the job of keeping lipstick from running without leaving behind a weird lip line should that lipstick fade. It would probably work for a majority of lip shades. Also, it’s a great color to use all over the lips should you fancy that. I actually think I bought it because I saw it used on Gigi Hadid and I thought it looked good. I know. I’m a sell-out.

The canvas: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Èclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation SPF 22

I’ve run out of my BareMinerals Complexion Rescue, and that stuff was the real business. So, in the meantime, I’ve got this to go through. I like it– I’m not loving it –but it’s making me more creative in experimenting with different methods of foundation application. So for instance, I’ll use a much thinner layer and apply with a beauty blender, or I’ll mix in a bit of liquid highlighter (NARSxCharlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint) for a luminous finish. I think they changed the formula so it’s not quite the perfect foundation it used to be, but I’m still an overall satisfied customer. And it smells nice!

Bonus! The recipe: kale chicken pesto pizza

Spread Trader Joe’s Pesto all Genovese all over Trader Joe’s pizza dough. Dump Trader Joe’s mozzarella cheese all over that. Cover in fresh chopped curly kale with a little olive oil (do NOT use the bagged Trader Joe’s pre-chopped kale- they can’t do everything right and it smells like the Plague). Add cooked chicken (maybe precooked in Italian herbs and balsamic hmmm?). Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes … maybe a lot if you’ve got firemouth like me. Stick in oven at 375-F for 15-ish minutes. Take out. Shove in your face. Get self-righteous about eating kale.

What I’m Using: November 2018

Hi, hello! It’s been a minute.

When it comes to beauty, I’m most passionate about sharing what products I use and love; I enjoy learning about what others are using as well. And so I’ve decided, after taking some serious time off from this blog, that I’m going to return to it with the vision of focusing specifically on what products I’m currently using with a monthly post. These posts may be punctuated with the red carpet season craziness that we all know and love, but the primary intent with this writing project is to simply share what I’m using, once a month.

And so, here we are! November. And snow will very soon arrive to put the, um, “no” in November. Temperatures are steadily dropping, dryness abounds, and hair begins to get that oily-on-top-but-parched-on-the-ends awkwardness. But these are merely seasonal woes. There are other, more peculiar long-term challenges that I’m interested in tackling: namely, the creases on my forehead. Expression lines, as I like to call them- makes me sound so elegant! Scroll down for my current products in rotation.

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The retin-something: Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Créme

At age 28, I got my first pair of glasses. I also found my first grey hair. I also noticed for the first time the faint creases cropping up on my forehead. I wasn’t alarmed, exactly; I was more just interested in seeing if the decades of anti-wrinkle research I’d been reading and hearing about all my life was actually going to pay off in the form of a truly effective treatment other than an injectable. I mean, think about how long our scientists have been going after fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, whatever. Defying the symptoms of impending death (you bristled …… am I wrong?) is the very raison d’être for the skincare industry and they’ve been working at it forever. And now, the options are just about as endless as a Dostoyevsky novel. So what’s one to do other than do a little research, pick something that seems right for you, and dive forehead-first into the vast waters known as the anti-aging industry?

Retinol- a topical derivative of vitamin A- has long been regarded as the “breakthrough” ingredient to returning a youthful look to the skin by stimulating collagen production and cellular renewal, but there are so many options that it’s hard to know where to begin. Retinol is far best suited for night and so I wanted something that I’d only be tempted to use at night, like a cream. I tried a retinol suspended in oil for a while, but it really was too oily and nonabsorbent to be comfortable at night. I also am only using this about twice a week as retinol can have a sensitizing effect on your skin; you have to give it time to see how your skin reacts and adjusts. Ole Henriksen’s Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Créme seemed like a new formula that was worth a shot. It features bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that supposedly works as a retinol alternative (so maybe not as sensitizing?). It smells lovely, absorbs well, and the texture and dullness of my skin is noticeably improved overnight. The fine lines? Still there, but slightly more faint. I’ll have to get through the whole jar and see where we’re at by then.

The second-in-command: MAC Upward Lash

Why second in command? So the way I work with mascara is this: I always have a CoverGirl LashBlast formula on hand. Always. I feel like they are THEE best. But, I always need a second formula to sort of give my lashes that final “bump”. The CoverGirl ones are amazing but I can’t ever seem to work on one formula alone. And so, things get really exciting when I play around with different “second-in-command” mascaras as I like to call them. I usually choose something with an inkier consistency and a smaller, more precise brush. MAC’s Upward Lash does the job expertly.

The old fave: Glossier Super Bounce serum

Seriously amazing for dry skin. I don’t reach for Super Bounce much from about May through September because my skin seems to rebalance, but wow- as soon as the chill starts up again I’m going through about two bottles in six months or less. I love it right after toner and essence, but before moisturizer. It really does give my skin that bit of plump and coolness when I feel tight and awful after I’ve eaten too much cheddar popcorn the night before. I also love it for makeup prep and find it does a beautiful job at soothing redness.

The (very) intense conditioner: Davines Melu conditioner

I think if I had to select one product I weirdly hoard or am always tempted to buy more of, it’s hair conditioner. I promise, every time I step into Target you will find me wandering down the haircare aisle opening up those tubs of thick, buttermilk-textured conditioner that smell like all kinds of delectable desserts or yummy bubble tea (don’t you think?!?). I’m not particularly inclined to eat the Davines Melu conditioner, but I will tell you that it is rich. Meant to hydrate dry ends and prevent breakage so long hair can sustain itself, it feels more like a hair mask than anything and it makes my hair so soft. The fragrance is more floral and sophisticated, which is a nice thing because let’s face it- our noses must graduate from the fruit cocktail explosions of Bath and Body Works at some point.

Bonus! The espionage read: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Wow. Right? I feel like every other person I’ve mentioned this book to has read it. And I can’t believe I didn’t know it’s being brought to film (the news broke last April- I feel like I should’ve known this already but apparently I don’t follow enough fun people on Twitter)! And if you’re unfamiliar with this work, you should jump on the train before it magically turns into a bandwagon and your mom and your brother and your cat are all there, saying how much they love it too. I will only reveal what IMDb reveals about the storyline: “A former spy is called up out of retirement to assist in an unusual investigation.” Seriously. It is GOOD.

Best Of The 2018 SAG Awards

Alright, the color is back in full force this round. I was most, most pleased with this red carpet. Some seriously stunning choices, and of course, I was all the more happy with the incredible hair make makeup styling at this year’s SAG Awards. The glam teams were bringing nothing less than their best work. Here we go!

 

Saoirse Ronan in custom Louis Vuitton-
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I would wear this. I would totally wear this! Such beautiful art deco inspiration I’m seeing here, and such a cheerful shade of pastel, millennial pink. And I do love a modest silhouette contrasted with two marvelous slits up the side. And Saoirse’s (pronounced SER-shuh) minimalist styling is the right choice, as I don’t believe her face is one that could take “a lot” of makeup if you know what I mean. Her features are so delicate and fairylike, and dark or harsh makeup choices would just overwhelm her. Or at least, those are my thoughts. I could proven wrong, though!

 

Mandy Moore in Ralph Lauren-
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This is the kind of look that makes me want to go on vacation. The ease of the strappy silhouette that makes you want to pack a weekend getaway bag, the dreamy shade of shimmery cobalt that makes you want to dive into a perfectly blue pool after sipping on a Mai Tai beneath your cabana …

Think I’m living in the MidWest in the middle of January? Maybe. Just maybe. Some daydreaming problems over here.

But truly, this styling is fabulous and I can’t wait for a closeup of Mandy’s makeup, too, as I’ve detected a bit of aqua on her lower lids. Oooohhh…

 

Olivia Munn in Oscar de la Renta-

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Ohhhhh sequins! Luscious luscious sequins. And beautious floral appliqués. While this is overall a safe choice- and I’ve appreciated Olivia in the past for bolder choices when it would be quite easy for her to ride on her bombshell looks- the center-parted hair that’s like a shiny black sheet combined with the glowy, rosy makeup makes this a win. It might be safe, but it’s so good that the lack of risk doesn’t matter to me. And check those metallic talon nails! Daaaayyyuuuum.

 

Lupita Nyong’O in Ralph and Russo-

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Mmmmm more metallic perfection. And feathers! Who doesn’t appreciate some good bird now? I used to think I’d know that I’ve “made it” by the fact that I was wearing a sequined dress on a red carpet somewhere, but I’ve since changed my mind. I now know that it’s when I’m wearing a dress with feathers on a red carpet somewhere that I’ll know I’ve made it. Feathers are just so extra, so Marie Antoinette. So unnecessary-but-why-wouldn’t-you.

And does Lupita’s skin have a shimmery finish?! I can’t tell, but I have to find out. It’s positively luminous.

 

Brie Larson in Gucci-

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If you’re not wearing Gucci these days, what are you even doing with your life?! I’ll tell you what you’re doing- you’re wearing knockoff Gucci. Like me. From Target. But don’t blame a girl- sequins and details and jewel-encrusted bows and so many colors and eeeeeeeverything you think of when you think of a fantasy dress- that’s Gucci. Remember Nicole Kidman’s green sequined parrot amazingness from last year’s SAG Awards? Yep, Gucci.

Also, digging the stunning shimmery blue shadows on Brie. So lovely, especially on brown eyes. In other news, Captain Marvel allegedly begins production … tomorrow!

And now, for the obvious-yet-still-too-good-to-be-ignored choice …

 

Margot Robbie in Miu Miu-

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Ladies and gentlemen, another round of applause for feathers! See? I’m telling you, they’re quite fetching and irresistible. I can’t tell at this point if this dress is white or a very light shade of blush. I’m thinking the latter when I see it against the red carpet, and oh, how I love a good rosé as my white girl self should.

I’ve noticed that each of Kate Young’s choices for Margot have all had that bit of figure skating extra-ness as a nod to I, Tonya, whether it’s a touch of sparkle or something like a ribbon and feathers to create the movement that’s so important in figure skating outfits. Makes for a fun press tour, no? But I have to note that it’s the hair and makeup team that’ve really astounded me with Margot on this tour of hers- Pati Dubroff and Bryce Scarlett have been absolute heroes with the hair and makeup game. And I don’t care how beautiful she is naturally! Having a team behind you that consistently takes you from plebeian to goddess is irreplaceable as a celebrity, even for someone as pretty as Margot.

Let me know what you think, and do tell me if you think I’ve forgotten anyone especially deserving! Cheers! xo, MR

 

Photo credits in order of appearance: Steve Granitz/WireImage, Frazer Harrison/Getty, John Shearer/Getty, John Salangsang/Shutterstock, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, Frazer Harrison/Getty

Dry Skin Solutions: How Not To Be An Iguana

Welcome to December in greater Chicagoland. The skies are blue, Lake Michigan is looking peaceful, and the wind feels like daggers. And that’s just today! It’s one of those days when it’s literally too cold to snow. All this affects you in more whiney ways than one. Never before have I known such a need for deep, abiding moisture than I have here in the MidWest.

And all this comes after the previous October and November have already done a number on your skin. During those autumn months, allergies abound and the temperature forecast reads like a rollercoaster. I get little breakouts every autumn here, in the hollows of my cheeks and around my hairline. And with every sneeze and cough you can feel your skin’s moisture and vitality slowly going into hibernation with the bears (who apparently have already been in hibernation out here in Chicago with no plans of ever coming out … ahem).

Unbelievably, I have made a football reference in one of my posts and I really hope you caught that. Because this is a rare and unique occurrence.

So what do you use during these months to keep your skin surviving, if not thriving, especially during party season when you really want your skin primed and ready for good makeup? I’ve got a couple products that I rely on, and a couple that I’m giving a first go this season. Keep in mind that this is basically a night routine; my day routine always involves sunscreen moisture not mentioned here.

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CLEANSER – Glossier Milky Jelly

I don’t touch any other facial cleansers year-round besides Milky Jelly, but I get that everyone’s skin is different and one product might not be a perennial go-to for all people. However, if you’re considering a winter cleanser to help with dryness, this stuff is the business. It doesn’t froth or foam, and you can put it on dry skin to remove makeup. It leaves your skin feeling soft and hydrated, with not a trace of that squeaky-stripped sensation. I wash my face more because of this creamy cleanser. It’s truly a delightful experience each time I use it.

TONER/ESSENCE – Origins Original Skin Essence Lotion with Dual Ferment Complex

I’ve historically used spray toners from Lush Cosmetics as my next step right after cleansing, but I was never sure if they were actually doing anything. I recalled a K-brand product called May Coop Raw Sauce that I once tried in place of toner that left my skin glowing, and I figured I’d look for something similar and more reasonably priced.

An essence, if you’re wondering, is basically another way to add more nutrients and moisture into your skincare routine. They are hydrating and usually designed with mild exfoliants that prime the skin and allow for other products – such as serums, which we’ll get to next – to penetrate more effectively. I particularly love them for their makeup-prep qualities- essences are excellent under makeup! This particular one from Origins is very brightening and helpful for improving texture and tone.

SERUM – Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster & Glossier Super Bounce

Serums are meant to deliver an intense concentration of powerful ingredients into your skin. There are serums to address a multitude of skin concerns- acne, anti-aging, dullness, and in my case, dryness. I’ve been particularly faithful to Glossier’s Super Bounce for its supply of hyaluronic acid and glycerin- this stuff really made a difference last fall/winter when I first gave it a try. I’m using Simple Skincare’s Hydrating Booster this season to compare something cheaper.

While the Booster does leave my skin feeling soft and looking supple, I have to say the ingredients list and effects are not as impressive as the Super Bounce. Its effects are much more temporary and its ingredient list is a bit too long (not necessarily a sign of quality, in my opinion). And, for all the length of that list, it is lacking in powerhouse ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin B5. I look forward to going back to the Super Bounce once I’m finished with this. Another recommendation I could make in this category is Caudalie’s VinoSource SOS Thirst Quenching Facial Serum- plenty of hyaluronic acid AND polyphenols!

MOISTURIZER – Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Consider this the Big Kahuna of winter moisturizers. I will find myself using this dense, luxurious cream in the dead of winter (you know it’s not even winter yet, right?) when the heater has been blasting in our apartment all day and I’ve just finished a shower with temperatures that should by all accounts melt my skin off. Things like murumuru butter, fatty acids, ceramides 3 and 6, and lavender oil pack a wollop of intense moisture before bedtime, so I can feel like a true granny with my chamomile tea and super-thick night cream.

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SUPPLEMENT – Olly Vibrant Skin

Besides the joy of eating berry-flavored gummies everyday, these vitamins are brimming with … well whaddya know … hyaluronic acid (hope you’re seeing a trend here), sea buckthorn, and collagen to help stimulate cellular turnover. My first fall/winter season out here consisted of frantically trying to find solutions for how dry my skin was (unanticipatedly) feeling. My second fall/winter season out here was a complete 180 having discovered the combination of Milky Jelly, Super Bounce, and these gummies. And who knew you could ingest hyaluronic acid?!

BODY – Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair

But of course, as we all know, the absolute driest parts of our bodies usually lie nowhere near the face. Personally, the areas that drive me nearly insane are my shins of all things. There are some evenings when I will come out of the shower and a couple minutes later, my shins will seriously be on fire and I have no idea what I did to my shins to cause such trouble (and no- shaving is not the culprit). Just now, I’m staring at my right forearm that is actually flaking and slightly pink, and I’m wondering where on Earth this is coming from!

Now, I’m not one for slathering myself in lotion everyday, especially those with petro ingredients. I believe such routines can actually have adverse affects on our skin’s ability to replenish its own moisture along with subtle harm to our endocrine system over time, but when my poor shins are itching mercilessly and resemble something closer to iguana skin than lady legs, I promise I have found the best drugstore lotion to remedy the situation. This stuff works, and fast. And there’s no headache-inducing scent that lingers because it’s fragrance-free. And it’s been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. So there’s that marketing trick going for it.

What skin concerns do you encounter with the change of seasons? What do you use to keep your complexion in good shape? Let me know in the comments! xo, MR

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