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 ūüôā The second one has no filter, while the other two have about forty percent of a filter.

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Frizz And Humidity- If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

You know that meme with the super fuzzy rabbit making fun of the electrifying effects of humidity on hair?  You know- Is it humid today?

Well, I hate to be that¬†girl, but it’s a real thing, and you really haven’t experienced humidity until you’ve lived in the MidWest. ¬†Or at least somewhere other than Southern California. ¬†I’ve described California dry heat as ‘blistering’. ¬†And make no mistake- it is. ¬†But I would describe Illinois humid heat as oppressive. ¬†It is a different animal, and it wants to lick you in the face.

You see the grey, cloudy sky outside in August and it fools you. ¬†Boy, does it fool you. ¬†The temperature reads something like 78 but you then look at the “feels like”- more around 90. ¬†You step outside and you feel like a warm, wet dog has jumped on your back. ¬†Or like you’ve just walked into a mouth. ¬†You feel the urge to take a really, really long nap and your sentences suddenly go incoherent. ¬†Someone described walking outside in Midwestern humidity as “like trying to walk between the slices of your peanut butter sandwich”. ¬†Might be true.

But the hair. ¬†Oh, the hair. ¬†And irony of ironies, that I would choose this year to commit to bangs. ¬†Now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve met a single soul out here that also has bangs. ¬†Except for maybe the five year old boy with the bowl-cut-of-no-choice or the little girl with bangs that make her look like Matilda. ¬†It’s just me and the kindergarteners, because no grown woman would dare make the witless decision to cut bangs in weather that at times feels like trying to backstroke through butter. ¬†Bangs in humidity, when you’ve initially straightened or blown them out, seem to devolve within two minutes into one giant, self-inflicted cowlick that look like some awkward¬†bird’s wing sticking out of your forehead.

But there are ways, believe it or not, of gaining back a sense of power and control over one’s hair in humidity. ¬†It’s not a set of fancy tricks, it doesn’t mean cutting all your hair off (though that is a solution), and it’s actually more of a practice in paradox than anything.

The secret to gaining control over hair in humidity is letting go.

Let. It. Go.

And I’d cue Elsa, but her climate is entirely inappropriate for our topic of discussion, so ignore the frosty connotations.

I woke up this morning knowing that it was a hair wash day for me (about every three days). ¬†However, I knew I’d have no time to dry it, and what on Earth would become of it once I stepped out into God’s Armpit?!? ¬†I had no time, but the wash had to happen. ¬†I actually packed my hair dryer and my straightener with me to bring to work, thinking I’d fix things once I got there or at least blow out my bangs (ha!). ¬†Again, no time. ¬†Got to work, got started with work right away. ¬†The only precaution I took were a few spritzes of Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Infusion on my wet hair before leaving. ¬†I also had neither the time or attention span to think of touching my hair once I got to work either. ¬†I just kept flipping it from side to side, without touching it or my bangs, hoping for the best.

And you know what? ¬†Here’s what I got:

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Not too bad, eh? ¬†A deep, messy side part along with haphazard bangs also tossed to the side didn’t turn out half as poorly as I’d expected. ¬†Now, some of you are probably rolling your eyes saying, “Oh, my hair would never dry that way”. ¬†Well, keep in mind that this is where humidity actually helps. ¬†Humidity helps bring out wave and curl. ¬†And adding a product with some oils in it like the Surf Infusion will add definition to that wave or curl, and will also help to control some of the frizzies (though obviously not all). ¬†But, if you’re in dry heat, I can’t say your hair will dry this way because there probably won’t be enough moisture in the air to bring out good wave/curl.

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This oil-infused Surf Infusion is also better for my hair because typical salt sprays tend to really dry mine out, and it’s dry to begin with. ¬†This spray feels extra hydrating without sacrificing the beachy effects.

So again, if you have hair that’s prone to frizz, I think one of the easiest ways to get frustrated with it in humid weather is by fighting that frizz. ¬†It’s honestly better to just roll with it. ¬†And don’t fight volume, either! ¬†Go ahead and flip your hair upside down and shake it out for the most¬†volume you can get (so long as it’s already dry- avoid touching it at all while it’s still wet). ¬†Anytime I’ve tried to keep my hair remotely straight or smooth out here in the summer, it’s turned into a battle where I’m constantly touching it and constantly wanting to reapply something like Alterna Caviar’s CC Cream to keep things at bay. ¬†Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So all this to say, just stop fighting it. ¬†Besides, who doesn’t look okay¬†with big hair? ¬†I mean seriously! ¬†Big, voluminous, crazy hair has always been fun, has always been je ne sais quois, and has always been associated with Beyonce. ¬†Or Diana Ross. ¬†Or someone else awesome that seems to be having a good time in life. ¬†Just go with it. ¬†xo, MR

A Few New Items To Add To Your List

I haven’t written quite as much lately because I’ve been a tad busier and my mind hasn’t had beauty quite on the brain as much either, but that never seems to mean I don’t have time to try something new or browse good ol’ Walgreens. Or Sephora. Or Glossier. I’ve also been super into reading up on beauty these days, so my input has been outpacing my output big time.

I’ve discovered a couple new products that I’m thinking will become new favorites. ¬†The best part of these is that I discovered and chose to try them all of my own, and not because they were in a magazine or on a blog (no irony here) or seen on social media. ¬†That’s the best- when you find something new entirely on your own and then love it.

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1.  BareMinerals Gen Nude Radiant Lipstick

One of my favorite beauty brands of all time has totally upped their lip game within the past month with four new lip products. ¬†In the world of Kylie Lip Kits, ColourPop cosmetics, and Kat Von D, it’s not to a company’s advantage if they ignore lips these days. ¬†But BareMinerals, being the naturally-focused name that they are, chose to revamp their lip products in total BM fashion- by focusing on making all products “nude”. ¬†That is, by creating a range of products called Gen Nude that covers every shade of “nude” there could possibly be, in four different finishes.

When I came across all this new awesomeness while wandering through Sephora, I was so impressed that a company finally seemed to grasp the fact that “nude” is a very relative term in makeup, and what counts as a shade of nude lipstick for one woman does not at all count as one for another. ¬†So what this amounts to are a line of products that are a whole bunch of delicious “my lips but better” tones, and I had a really hard time choosing just one (and yes, I allowed myself just one). ¬†I ended up choosing the Radiant Lipstick because the texture was like butter and it felt more like a smooth balm than a lipstick. ¬†I use something like this far more than gloss, and I prefer it far more than matte finish. ¬†I’d wanted something with more brown in it than my typically grey-pink that I go for in lips, so I picked Honey Bun after trying on maybe six or seven. ¬†I really, reeeeeeeally like this stuff.

The other products include the Buttercream Lip Gloss, the Matte Liquid Lipcolor (there’s your Kylie competition), and the Under Over Lipliner.

2.  Maybelline Brow Drama Pomade Crayon

What a cinch this stuff is. ¬†I’d wanted something to add more pigment to my brows when my Glossier BoyBrow just wasn’t enough, but I didn’t want to mess with anything too expensive like Anastasia’s Dip Brow that I knew I wouldn’t use so much, or anything that required any other tool besides my hand.

This chubby crayon is the perfect solution. ¬†It goes on really smoothly (it is like a pomade) and very concentrated, so I use a light hand. ¬†I bought it in its darkest shade, Deep Brown, because my brows can handle a decent amount of pigment. ¬†It’s just so easy to use, and then I add some BoyBrow or brow gel and the whole thing is done.

3.  LivingProof Prime Style Extender

As you may know, I can be extremely lazy when it comes to styling my hair. ¬†I’m always looking for that product that will somehow do everything and nothing. ¬†I want my hair left with texture, but not with any crunch. ¬†I want to cut down on frizz (especially out here in the MidWest), but I don’t want things too smooth or flat or without wave. ¬†I tried Bumble and Bumble’s Don’t Blow It but frankly, it did nothing for me (and not in the way that I want, apparently). ¬†If I air-dried my hair without it, it basically made no difference. ¬†But I still can hardly ever get myself to blow dry my hair! ¬†I’m always wanting to air dry, and so the quest for the elusive leave-in styling product continues. ¬†Oils have usually fared well (like Davines Oi or MoroccanOil), but even they can weigh me down a bit and take away from the matte finish I prefer.

Enter LivingProof Prime Style Extender. ¬†It gives my hair just enough tack without stick, holds a style well for 24 hours (and I can’t ask for much more in this weather- hairstyles don’t last more than a day out here), brings out my wave, and doesn’t have any weight to it. ¬†I started using a travel size I received to blow out my bangs, and then started wondering how it would fare on my entire head. ¬†So far, so good! ¬†It’s the best product I’ve used yet when it’s come to air drying (and it’s also supposed to be really great for blow drying, too!).

4.  NARS Audacious Mascara

And this one’s getting thrown in just for fun, because who doesn’t love a fresh, new mascara? ¬†I got a smaller size of this mascara for free with a mini NARS makeover and a purchase, and I’ve liked using it for my “second layer” of mascara like how I use BeneFit’s They’re Real! ¬†After using a slightly tackier, cheaper formula with a very dense brush (usually a CoverGirl Lask Blast formula), I like to use a more wet formula with a very spiky brush like Audacious to separate and “hug” the bottom lashes to really build the base and lash line- I wiggle it around on my lash line a couple times, being careful not to touch my eye. ¬†Such formulas usually help to darken the lashes overall, too. ¬†The formula alone isn’t my absolute favorite, but then again I virtually never use one mascara on its own. ¬†I always use at least two.

Anything new you’re trying lately? ¬†It seems that I’m stumbling upon new launches left and right, but I’m being very selective about what I give a chance to because I feel like I’ve got so much more than I could ever need in the first place. ¬†Let me know if you pick up one of these, or if you’ve been using something new that’s too good not to share! ¬†xo, MR